Legislation from Group of House Dems Highlights Menstrual Hygiene Concerns

Bills give students access to free supplies, allow flex spending purchases
Thursday, May 31, 2018

LANSING — A group of four Michigan House Democrats have introduced legislation that would improve access to free or lower-cost menstrual hygiene products and increase knowledge about the needs and challenges women face in managing menstruation.

“Our tax laws do not categorize feminine hygiene products as medically necessary, and that simply isn’t right,” said House Democratic Floor Leader Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills), who introduced House Resolution 354 which declared May 28 as Menstrual Hygiene Day. “Many women cannot afford to buy these products, leading some to ration them by improperly using them for too long, which can lead to medical difficulties. It shouldn’t be considered a luxury to purchase products to tend to a basic bodily function. This package helps ensure that no matter their financial situation, women are able to manage their periods in a healthy way.”

HR 354 was adopted. Other legislation in the package includes:

  • House Bill 6077: Rep. Leslie Love (D-Detroit) — Requires schools to provide tampons and sanitary napkins at no charge in all women’s and girls’ bathrooms in any building where instruction is provided [status: Referred to House Education Reform Committee]
  • HR 355: Rep. William Sowerby (D-Clinton Township) — Asks Congress to amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow health savings accounts to be used to buy menstrual hygiene products. [status: Referred to House Health Policy Committee]
  • HR 356: Rep. Patrick Green (D-Warren) — Asks Congress to amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow medical flex spending accounts to be used to buy menstrual hygiene products. [status: Referred to House Health Policy Committee]

Additionally, legislation has been introduced earlier this session that would exempt sales of menstrual hygiene products from the sales tax and use tax (HB 4129 – Rep. Brian Elder (D-Bay City) and HB 4128 – Rep. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), respectively).

“Too many lawmakers don’t understand the financial impact that menstruation has on young women and girls, and how they have no control over it,” Rep. Love said. “It’s time we end that. My bill makes sure that not being able to afford tampons or pads is never a barrier to a young woman receiving her education. Schools already provide basic necessities like toilet paper and facial tissue, and for young women and girls feminine hygiene products are inarguably needed. Our legislation provides the opportunity for the girls of our state to focus on bigger things than whether or not they can afford a tampon that day. And that is something our girls deserve.”