Senate Bill No. 7

(By Senators Foster, Stollings, Hunter, Kessler, Barnes, Jenkins and McCabe)


[Introduced January 10, 2007; referred to the Committee on Health and Human Resources.]


A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §16-1-19; and to amend and reenact §52-1-8 of said code, all relating to public health; recognizing health benefits of breast feeding for both mother and infant; requiring Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources to develop program to encourage and recognize employers with mother-infant-friendly policies; requiring rules; and providing that breast-feeding mothers may be excused from jury duty.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §16-1-19; and that §52-1-8 of said code be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:

§16-1-19. Breast feeding promoted, facilitated and protected; mother/infant-friendly employers encouraged; jury service not required.

(a) The Legislature finds that promoting the breast feeding of infants is an important public health initiative providing significant health benefits for both mother and child.
(b) The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources shall develop a program to encourage employers to provide safe and convenient facilities for mothers who are breast feeding, and to provide for designation and public recognition of those mother/infant-friendly employers who facilitate breast feeding by employees by providing breaks from work, convenient facilities including available refrigerated storage, flexible schedules, or other means.
(c) The Secretary of the State Department of Health and Human Resources shall propose rules for legislative approval in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine of this code, to effectuate the provisions of this section.

§52-1-8. Disqualification from jury service.
(a) The court, upon request of a prospective juror or on its own initiative, shall determine on the basis of information provided on the juror qualification form or interview with the prospective juror or other competent evidence whether the prospective juror is disqualified for jury service. The clerk shall enter this determination in the space provided on the juror qualification form and on the alphabetical lists of names drawn from the jury wheel or jury box.
(b) A prospective juror is disqualified to serve on a jury if the prospective juror:
(1) Is not a citizen of the United States, at least eighteen years old and a resident of the county;
(2) Is unable to read, speak and understand the English language. For the purposes of this section, the requirement of speaking and understanding the English language is met by the ability to communicate in American sign language or signed English;
(3) Is incapable, by reason of substantial physical or mental disability, of rendering satisfactory jury service; but a person claiming this disqualification may be required to submit a physician's certificate as to the disability and the certifying physician is subject to inquiry by the court at its discretion;
(4) Has, within the preceding two years, been summoned to serve as a petit juror, grand juror or magistrate court juror, and has actually attended sessions of the magistrate or circuit court and been reimbursed for his or her expenses as a juror pursuant to the provisions of section twenty-one of this article, section thirteen, article two of this chapter, or pursuant to an applicable rule or regulation of the Supreme Court of Appeals promulgated pursuant to the provisions of section eight, article five, chapter fifty of this code;
(5) Has lost the right to vote because of a criminal conviction; or
(6) Has been convicted of perjury, false swearing or other infamous offense.
(c) A prospective juror who is sixty-five years of age or older, or who is a mother breast feeding a child, is not disqualified from serving, but shall be excused from service by the court upon the juror's request.
(d) A prospective grand juror is disqualified to serve on a grand jury if the prospective grand juror is an officeholder under the laws of the United States or of this state except that the term "officeholder" does not include notaries public.
(e) A person who is physically disabled and can render competent service with reasonable accommodation shall not be ineligible to act as juror or be dismissed from a jury panel on the basis of disability alone: Provided, That the circuit judge shall, upon motion by either party or upon his or her own motion, disqualify a disabled juror if the circuit judge finds that the nature of potential evidence in the case including, but not limited to, the type or volume of exhibits or the disabled juror's ability to evaluate a witness or witnesses, unduly inhibits the disabled juror's ability to evaluate the potential evidence. For purposes of this section:
(1) Reasonable accommodation includes, but is not limited to, certified interpreters for the hearing impaired, spokespersons for the speech impaired and readers for the visually impaired.
(2) The court shall administer an oath or affirmation to any person present to facilitate communication for a disabled juror. The substance of such oath or affirmation shall be that any person present as an accommodation to a disabled juror will not deliberate on his or her own behalf, although present throughout the proceedings, but act only to accurately communicate for and to the disabled juror.
(f) Nothing in this article shall be construed so as to limit in any way a party's right to peremptory strikes in civil or criminal actions.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to promote the breast feeding of infants as a public health initiative. The bill: (1) Requires the Secretary of the State Department of Health and Human Resources to establish a program to encourage and recognize mother/infant-friendly employers; (2)
requires rules; and (3) permits breast feeding mothers to be excused from jury duty.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.

§16-1-9 is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.