- Offers 114 car-seat inspection stations -- a high number in proportion to the population of young children in the state
- Has very good air quality, especially for an industrialized state, with all counties earning a grade of A or B from the American Lung Association
- Requires all childcare providers to receive training in reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome at least once every five years -- one of the strictest mandates on the subject
When Minnesota State Senator Ellen Anderson (D) returned to the legislature six months after giving birth to her son Jack, she stumbled upon a big problem that she later learned affects many new moms. "I was still breastfeeding, and I realized there was no place in the Capitol building besides my office to express my milk," says Anderson, who nursed Jack for a year and a half. After checking with her friends and colleagues, she realized that her situation wasn't unique -- and some employers wouldn't even give their workers time to express milk.
Outraged, she drafted a bill requiring businesses to provide a private area for pumping milk -- and the break time to do it. In 1998, Minnesota became the first state to have such legislation; since then, eight other states (California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington) have passed laws relating to breastfeeding in the workplace. The same year, the state also passed a law protecting a mother's right to nurse in public, even if some of the breast is exposed. "Our laws are making it easier for women to breastfeed longer," she says.
Anderson was able to take advantage of the law herself when she gave birth to her son Nicki in 1999. "By then, there was a lactation room in the Capitol building with a lock on the door and a refrigerator to store pumped milk," she says. "I ended up nursing Nicki for two and a half years."