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The Senate on Thursday signed off on a bill that would require a public building or a public place that installs a diaper-changing accommodation to ensure that the room is equally available regardless of the gender for which the restroom is designed.

Senate Bill 443 by Sen. Breanne Davis, R-Russellville, would apply to a restroom constructed on or after the effective date of the bill.

[RELATED: Complete Democrat-Gazette coverage of the Arkansas Legislature]

A public building would mean structures occupied by an agency of the state and its political subdivisions under the bill. Under the bill, a public place would mean an enclosed area to which the public is invited or in which the public is permitted, including a bank, an educational facility, a health care facility, a laundry business, a public transportation facility, a reception area, a restaurant, a retail food production and marketing establishment, a retail service establishment, a retail store, a shopping mall, a sports arena, a theater and a waiting room. A private residence would not be considered a public place unless it is used as a licensed child care, adult day care or health care facility.

The Senate voted 22-2 to approve the bill, sending it to the House for further action.

-- Michael R. Wickline

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