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Updates on Menstrual Equity Policies

Period Health Policies: Is Your State Working to Make Menstrual Equity a Priority?

Director of Programs and Policy, Jamie McConnell
Jamie McConnell
Deputy Director

The work to achieve menstrual equity continued in 2020 with several dozen policies being introduced on the state and federal level to increase access, affordability, and safety of period products. Many legislatures prioritized COVID-related policies to move forward so there were no “big wins” on the state level, but the federal CARES Act which passed and was signed into law did include a provision allowing reimbursement of period products using a health savings account (HAS) or a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) (i.e. allows period products to purchased with pre-tax dollars).

Internationally menstrual equity made significant advancements with Scotland requiring free period products in all public bathrooms including restaurants, pubs, etc. in addition to schools and universities, and the United Kingdom eliminated sales tax on menstrual products.

To ensure menstrual equity in the United States, lawmakers and advocates should focus on passing policies that:

  • Eliminate the tampon tax. There are 30 states that still tax menstrual products as a “luxury” item. It’s far past time to get rid of the tampon tax, helping to make these products more affordable.
  • Increase accessibility and end period poverty in the US by requiring all public bathrooms to provide menstrual products free of charge. Some states have supported this effort by passing laws that require schools, homeless shelters, and correctional facilities and prisons to make these products available free of charge.
  • Ensure people who are incarcerated have access to high quality menstrual products. To often, correctional facilities and prisons have substandard products that do little to help the menstruator manage their period. 
  • Increase ingredient safety and transparency of menstrual products. Menstrual product manufacturers are not required to disclose ingredients, making it very difficult, if not impossible to assess product safety. New York passed a law in 2019 requiring manufacturers to disclose all intentionally added ingredients directly on the product label, but we need a federal law standardizing disclosure in every state. In the last several congressional session Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY) has introduced legislation to require just that.

So far in 2021 almost twenty bills have been introduced in 9 states to advance menstrual equity by requiring free access to period products, eliminating tax, and requiring ingredient disclosure.

State Bill Number Name Summary Bill Progress Last Action Action Date
AR HB1065 To Exempt Feminine Hygiene Products From Sales And Use Tax. To Exempt Feminine Hygiene Products From Sales And Use Tax. Introduced Filed 12/31/20
DE HB20 An Act To Amend Title 14 Of The Delaware Code Relating To The Provision Of Free Feminine Hygiene Products. This bill requires all public and charter schools which have students in grades 6-12 to provide free feminine hygiene products in 50% of the bathrooms used by students who can have a menstrual cycle.

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This bill also requires schools to publish on its website and post in its common areas the locations of the bathrooms where the hygiene products are provided. Finally, this bill provides that each school must consult with its school nurse regarding the products to be provided.

Introduced Introduced and Assigned to Health & Human Development Committee in House 12/04/20
FL H0075 Feminine Hygiene Products in Public Schools Requires school districts to make feminine hygiene products available, at no charge, in female restroom facilities of public school buildings. Introduced Filed 12/16/20
FL S0242 Student Health Services Citing this act as the “Learning with Dignity Act”; defining the terms “feminine hygiene products” and “school building”; requiring school districts to make feminine hygiene products available, at no charge, in female restroom facilities of public school buildings, etc. In Committee Referred to Education; Appropriations Subcommittee on Education; Appropriations 12/21/20
MD HB205 Public Schools – Provision of Menstrual Hygiene Products – Requirement Public Schools – Provision of Menstrual Hygiene Products – Requirement Introduced Hearing 1/27 at 1:30 p.m. 12/22/20
MO HB225 Requires school districts to provide “period products” at no cost in middle schools and high schools and charter schools and repeals provisions prohibiting abortion services providers from providing instruction on human sexuality or sexually transmitted diseases Requires school districts to provide “period products” at no cost in middle schools and high schools and charter schools and repeals provisions prohibiting abortion services providers from providing instruction on human sexuality or sexually transmitted diseases Introduced Prefiled (H) 12/01/20
NJ A3388 Requires school districts to provide feminine hygiene products in certain public schools and requires State to pay costs. This bill requires school districts to ensure that students in schools educating students in grades 6 through 12, or any combination thereof, in which 40 percent or more of their students reside in households with a household income at or below the most recent federal poverty guidelines…

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multiplied by 1.85, have direct access to feminine hygiene products in at least 50 percent of the school bathrooms free of charge. Any costs incurred by a school district in complying with the provisions of this bill will be borne by the State. For purposes of this bill, “feminine hygiene products” mean tampons and sanitary napkins.

In Committee Introduced, Referred to Assembly Women and Children Committee 02/25/20
NJ A3611 Requires ingredients of menstrual products to be listed on package. This bill requires the ingredients of menstrual products to be listed on the package or box.

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Under the provisions of this bill, every package or box of menstrual products that is sold or offered for sale in this State is required to contain a label listing all of the ingredients contained in the menstrual product and the percentage of each ingredient. The information is required to be displayed in a manner that is conspicuous and easily understandable to consumers. The bill provides that is an unlawful practice and a violation of the consumer fraud act to manufacture a package or box of menstrual products that does not meet the requirements set forth in the bill. Under the bill, “menstrual product” is defined as a product used for the purpose of catching menstruation and vaginal discharge, including but not limited to a tampon, sanitary pad, and menstrual cup. The term includes both disposable and reusable products. An unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act is punishable by a monetary penalty of not more than $10,000 for a first offense and not more than $20,000 for any subsequent offense. In addition, violations may result in cease and desist orders issued by the Attorney General, the assessment of punitive damages, and the awarding of treble damages and costs to the injured party.

In Committee Introduced, Referred to Assembly Women and Children Committee 03/05/20
NJ AR194 Requests that future federal legislation related to COVID-19 financial relief include menstrual product funding. Requests that future federal legislation related to COVID-19 financial relief include menstrual product funding. Introduced Introduced, Referred to Assembly Women and Children Committee 10/19/20
NJ S692 Requires school districts to provide feminine hygiene products in certain public schools and requires State to pay costs. This bill requires school districts to ensure that students in schools educating students in grades 6 through 12, or any combination thereof, in which 40 percent or more of their students reside in households with a household income at or below the most recent federal poverty guidelines…

Read more

multiplied by 1.85, have direct access to feminine hygiene products in at least 50 percent of the school bathrooms free of charge. Any costs incurred by a school district in complying with the provisions of this bill will be borne by the State. For purposes of this bill, “feminine hygiene products” mean tampons and sanitary napkins.

In Committee Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee 02/13/20
NJ S2844 Requires ingredients of menstrual products to be listed on package. This bill requires the ingredients of menstrual products to be listed on the package or box.

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Under the provisions of this bill, every package or box of menstrual products that is sold or offered for sale in this State is required to contain a label listing all of the ingredients contained in the menstrual product and the percentage of each ingredient. The information is required to be displayed in a manner that is conspicuous and easily understandable to consumers. The bill provides that is an unlawful practice and a violation of the consumer fraud act to manufacture a package or box of menstrual products that does not meet the requirements set forth in the bill. Under the bill, “menstrual product” is defined as a product used for the purpose of catching menstruation and vaginal discharge, including but not limited to a tampon, sanitary pad, and menstrual cup. The term includes both disposable and reusable products. An unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act is punishable by a monetary penalty of not more than $10,000 for a first offense and not more than $20,000 for any subsequent offense. In addition, violations may result in cease and desist orders issued by the Attorney General, the assessment of punitive damages, and the awarding of treble damages and costs to the injured party.

Introduced Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Commerce Committee 08/25/20
NY A00137 Requires that all female-designated bathrooms in the state of New York provide feminine hygiene products at no cost. AN ACT to amend the labor law, the general municipal law, the public buildings law, the parks, recreation and historic preservation law, the multiple dwelling law, the public health law, the railroad law, the multiple residence law, the education law, the correction law, the social services law, the public authorities law and the general business law, in relation to enacting the “total access to menstrual products (TAMP) act” Introduced referred to governmental operations 01/06/21
TX HB321 Relating to a sales and use tax exemption for certain feminine hygiene products. Relating to a sales and use tax exemption for certain feminine hygiene products. Introduced Filed 11/09/20
TX HB388 Relating to a sales and use tax exemption for certain feminine hygiene products. Relating to a sales and use tax exemption for certain feminine hygiene products. Introduced Filed 11/09/20
TX HB490 Relating to a sales and use tax exemption for certain feminine hygiene products. Relating to a sales and use tax exemption for certain feminine hygiene products. Introduced Filed 11/10/20
TX SB148 Relating to a sales and use tax exemption for certain feminine hygiene products. Relating to a sales and use tax exemption for certain feminine hygiene products. Introduced Filed 11/09/20
WY SF0027 Essential health product dignity act. AN ACT relating to sales and use taxes; establishing a tax exemption for feminine hygiene products and diapers; and providing for an effective date. Introduced Bill Number Assigned 12/30/20

** Data provided by www.BillTrack50.com **

If you live in one of these states, contact your state representatives and ask them to support the legislation. Menstrual equity can only be achieved if we raise our voices and demand it.

Policy research conducted by WVE volunteer Peris Ochsner was used in this blog. 

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