Commentary

Lets think this through

Parents with newborns quickly become acutely aware of the obstacles they face. A good parent does his or her research for every way to clear those hurdles as they mold society’s next productive citizen.

Diaper changing, of course, stands paramount in a parent’s mind. The responsible parent plans ahead whenever they take baby out in the world. A trip to a restaurant or a store demands asking a simple question: Is it kid-friendly? Thanks to the internet, that information is readily available.

Soon after my daughter was born, my wife and I decided visited the Fairlane Grill in Erdenheim. We went once, had a great breakfast, but never went back. It was not kid-friendly. No high chairs, and likely no changing table. We left somewhat annoyed, but we never called our Rep to demand legislation. If a restaurant didn’t want to welcome kids, that was their right.

With House Bill 1029, Representative Steve McCarter thinks he’s coming to our rescue by tossing us a lifeline we don’t need and that you’ll have to pay for.

Despite the fact that you can’t swing a poopy diaper in this area without hitting a kid-friendly restaurant with a changing table already in place, Mr. McCarter’s announcement makes this claim:

We have all heard stories of parents and caregivers being forced to change a child’s diaper on the unsanitary floor of a public restroom, simply because a restaurant or grocery store did not provide an adequate table to do so. Placing families in this position is unsafe, inappropriate, and unnecessary.

Actually, I have never once heard of a responsible parent laying their baby down on the floor of a public rest room. I’m sure it has happened to someone. But so many times to require legislation? No.

If I found myself in that situation, I would leave the restroom and find the first available horizontal surface and change my baby out in the open. I have changed my daughter’s diaper with one hand standing outside in a parking lot in the driving rain, while I had her laid out in the back seat of the car. It was a point of pride for me.

His proposed legislation would require state and municipal buildings, as well as private businesses to provide baby diaper changing tables in all publicly accessible restrooms. This sounds like yet another solution in search of a problem, and an expression of Mr. McCarter’s frustrations at serving in the minority party.

Taxpayers should always scrutinize any government expense for any purpose, and a strong argument can and should be made that attracting the best talent for public service demands such amenities. However, as a small business reporter and a parent, I see little benefit to foisting this requirement upon the private sphere.

Big restaurant chains won’t oppose this bill. Anything to further burden smaller, older diners and storefronts only helps Big Burger’s bottom line. Any given chain restaurant already has such a table, because the industry understands that kids drive dining decisions.

If Mr. McCarter’s newsletters and public statements express little sympathy for those that toil in the small business space. Worse for all of us, he exhibits little understanding of the finer points of business management.

Diaper changing tables may seem like a small matter, but legislation such as this comes from a mindset incapable of seeing the bigger picture.

We urge Mr. McCarter to keep this bill out of the mom-n-pop shops and that he perhaps find a more productive activity for himself. I recommend woodworking.