By Dina Kupfer

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A Bay Area Assemblywoman was forced to bring her newborn daughter to the chamber because she was denied the right to vote remotely.

When Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks of Oakland went to cast her vote on a homelessness bill Monday night, her newborn baby stole the show.

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“Colleagues, it’s good to see you all. I was actually in the middle of feeding my daughter when this bill came up,” Wicks said in the assembly chamber Monday. “I strongly believe we need to pass this bill. We are 2.5 million homes shy of where we need to be right now in the State (baby cries) and Elly agrees.”

Wicks had been on maternity leave after recently giving birth, but was forced to return to the state Capitol after her request to vote by proxy was denied because she wasn’t considered at a high risk of catching COVID-19.

“My daughter is 4 weeks old, and I had a c-section, and so I was recovering from that and obviously newborns have very compromised immune systems,” Wicks said.

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With a coronavirus outbreak in the Senate just last week, Wicks was obviously concerned for her health and baby Elly.

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“I was told maternity leave does not qualify, that I’d either have to stay home and not vote or come to the Capitol,” Wicks said. “There was kind of no good choice it felt like.”

So she stayed in her office until the vote came up, which happened to be in the middle of Elle’s feeding.

“So I detached her from me and grabbed her in my arms and threw a blanket over her to protect her from the air and ran two flights down the stairs and ran on the floor to speak on the bill,” Wicks said.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) issued an apology to Wicks Tuesday night reading in part:
“I want to make a full apology to Assemblymember Wicks. My intention was never to be inconsiderate toward her, her role as a legislator, or her role as a mother… I failed to make sure our process took into account the unique needs of our Members. The Assembly needs to do better. I commit to doing better.”

And while the bill didn’t advance, Wicks, who also has a 3-year-old at home, is using this moment to address not the elephant in the room, but rather, the baby.

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“My hope is that coming out of this it’s a broader conversation around how we’re treating our families, how we’re treating our new moms,” Wicks said.