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Breast-Feeding Protection Bill, Sponsored By Ailing Lawmaker, Sent To Gov. Nixon

State Rep. Rory Ellinger, D-University City
Credit Tim Bommel, Mo. House Communications
State Rep. Rory Ellinger, D-University City

  Legislation to expand legal protections in Missouri for breast-feeding moms is on its way to .

State Rep. Rory Ellinger, D-University City, is on leave from the legislature after being diagnosed with liver cancer, but his bill is on a fast track to passage. The bill would allow breast-feeding moms to be excused from jury duty and would mandate that breast-feeding in public does not equal indecent exposure or conduct.  Fellow Democrat Joseph Keaveny of St. Louis sponsoredEllinger'sbill in the Senate.

"His health has taken a severe downturn," Keaveny told the Senate Monday.

Keaveny described Ellinger as a good friend. The two of them roomed together in Jefferson City during legislative sessions.

"I think everybody could learn a lot (fromEllinger)," Keaveny said.  "Some of the younger people could really learn a lot about dedication, and focus and purpose, and loyalty (fromEllinger)."

The bill and its passage are being hailed as a tribute to Ellinger.  It received first-round approval March 27, and Ellinger was said to have listened in on on the debate.  One day later it passed unanimously, 150-0, with one "present" vote.  Senate leaders on Monday suspended the rules so that the bill could be given final passage and sent to Nixon as soon as possible because of Ellinger's "deteriorating health."  The Senate vote was also unanimous, 31-0.

Ellinger sponsored House Bill 1320 after a Kansas City-area woman faced contempt of court charges last fall for bringing her 7-month-old child to court when she was summoned for jury duty.  The judge in the case asked Missouri lawmakers to address the issue.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

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Marshall Griffin is the Statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.
Marshall Griffin
St. Louis Public Radio State House Reporter Marshall Griffin is a native of Mississippi and proud alumnus of Ole Miss (welcome to the SEC, Mizzou!). He has been in radio for over 20 years, starting out as a deejay. His big break in news came when the first President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama in 1989. Marshall was working the graveyard shift at a rock station, and began ripping news bulletins off an old AP teletype and reading updates between songs. From there on, his radio career turned toward news reporting and anchoring. In 1999, he became the capital bureau chief for Florida's Radio Networks, and in 2003 he became News Director at WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. During his time in Tallahassee he covered seven legislative sessions, Governor Jeb Bush's administration, four hurricanes, the Terri Schiavo saga, and the 2000 presidential recount. Before coming to Missouri, he enjoyed a brief stint in the Blue Ridge Mountains, reporting and anchoring for WWNC-AM in Asheville, North Carolina. Marshall lives in Jefferson City with his wife, Julie, their dogs, Max and Liberty Belle, and their cat, Honey.
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