Photo by Nicole Jennings

Photo by Nicole Jennings

Proposed law would make tampons free for some college students

The bill would ensure that those with low incomes can have access to clean products, say proponents.

Washington state lawmakers are considering a bill that would require community and technical colleges to provide free tampons or sanitary pads to students. Representatives in the House Higher Education Committee passed the bill out of committee on Wednesday.

“It smartly identifies something that should not have taken us this long to identify,” said Representative Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, chair of the House Higher Education Committee.

Representative Melanie Stambaugh, R-Puyallup, the bill’s prime sponsor, said HB 2863 ensures that those with low incomes can have access to clean products.

She got the idea for the bill from a Pierce College student who raised concerns about the costs of the products, the impact on low-income students, and a debit card culture in which students often do not have quarters to pay for tampon dispenser machines in women’s restrooms.

Stambaugh said that other colleges and four year universities around the state offer limited free feminine products in women’s restrooms. The University of Washington Seattle campus has a similar need-based system in place in many women’s restrooms. She asked lawmakers to also consider adding four year universities to the bill.

“We support the positive impact that this bill would have on our female students, especially those that are low income and are experiencing homelessness,” said Erin Frasier, policy associate for the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.

Frasier asked the committee to consider funding the products for community and technical colleges. A hearing in the appropriations committee is not yet scheduled.

“This bill is asking for a small price that will go a long way in students lives,” said Leah Mobley, legislative liaison for the Associated Students of Central Washington University.

She said that the average woman spends anywhere between $60 and $200 per year on feminine hygiene products depending on personal needs. She said it doesn’t seem like much to some people, but for a low income college student already paying for tuition, housing, and books, it can be a hefty price.

According to 2016 Global Industry Analysts, the feminine hygiene market is worth $5.9 billion and is expected to grow to $6.2 billion by the year 2020.

Washington State includes feminine hygiene products like tampons and pads in its sales tax. As of January 2017, five states have no sales tax and seven states exempt menstrual products from their sales tax.

HB 1265, also sponsored by Stambaugh, would exempt tampons and pads from the state’s sales tax. The bill was introduced last year but has not yet had a hearing.

This report was produced by the Olympia bureau of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bellevuereporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bellevuereporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Northwest

King County prosecutor, council member propose hate crimes task force

County leaders say the proposal will give better resouces to prosecute and investigate hate crimes.

Photo courtesy of 4Culture
Local artists wanted to design limited-edition ORCA Cards

Applications due by 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 5.

Photo via Pexels
King County residents needed for first respiratory study using Apple watches

UW study to help find if devices can detect early warning signs of acute respiratory infections, such as COVID-19 and flu.

Photo courtesy of Johnson and Johnson (jnj.com)
Johnson & Johnson vaccine halted in Washington over side effect

Following federal guidance, Washington health care providers are temporarily pausing Johnson &… Continue reading

File Photo
High court ruling spurs effort to retool state’s drug laws

Meanwhile, the Blake decision has gotten people out jail, charges dismissed and possibly clemency for some.

Guns seized during April 7 arrests (photo credit: Dept. of Justice)
More than 20 arrested across the Puget Sound in drug distribution conspiracy

DOJ says law enforcement agencies seized over 70 guns and hundreds of thousands in cash.

T
Sheriff’s office wants help identifying Green River killer victim

Staff reports In 2003, Gary Ridgway, Washington’s notorious Green River killer, pleaded… Continue reading

file photo
King County municipal courts offer limited time warrant amnesty program

The program is intended to mitigate court backlog of warrants during pandemic.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. File photo
King County needs more lawyers to attack backlog of cases

6,107 open cases is double the normal amount for King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Public Health – Seattle & King County staff administering COVID-19 vaccine to a local emergency responder. COURTESY PHOTO, Public Health-Seattle & King County
Starting April 15, everyone 16 and older is eligible for a vaccine

Gov. Inslee said an expected increase in vaccine supply enables the state to open eligibility.

Stock photo
Those who switched to telework have higher income, education and better health

U.S. Census Bureau report breaks down the numbers nationwide

A CVS pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Phase Finder for vaccine eligibility to be eliminated March 31

Eligibility verification via Phase Finder no longer required for appointments, vaccinations beginning this week.