Meng Introduces Package of Bills to Make Feminine Hygiene Products More Safe, Accessible, and Affordable to Women
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) announced today that she has introduced a series of bills which expand her efforts to make feminine hygiene products more accessible and affordable to women. The measures include:
- The Menstrual Products Tax Credit Act
Provides a $120 refundable tax credit to low-income individuals who regularly use menstrual hygiene products. Those entitled for the credit would include women and girls whose incomes fall below 200% of the federal poverty level. Allowable items would consist of tampons, pads, liners, cups, and similar products used by women with respect to menstruation.
- Accurate Labeling of Menstrual Products Act
Requires ingredient labels to be placed on commonly-used feminine hygiene products including scented and unscented pads, cups, scented and unscented tampons, and therapeutic douche apparatuses. The measure, which would require ingredients to be listed in descending order of concentration, seeks to make menstrual products safer by ensuring that women know what they are putting in their bodies. Presently, makers of feminine hygiene products are not required to disclose the ingredients. The legislation is cosponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan/Queens/Brooklyn).
- Menstrual Products for Employees Act
Aims to require large employers to provide free feminine hygiene products to their employees. The bill would direct the Secretary of Labor to promulgate regulations that mandate employers with 100 or more employees to provide feminine hygiene items to all their workers free of charge. Specific rules such as the implementation time, types of products, and exemptions would be left to the discretion of the Secretary, following a public comment period.
Meng, joined by New York City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-Queens), also sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch requesting that feminine hygiene products be made available to federal inmates and detainees at no-cost.
“Barriers to menstrual equality are quickly coming down and I continue to do everything I can to help all women achieve it,” said Meng. “These new bills and our letter to the attorney general will help move those efforts forward, and bring us closer to the day when access, safety and stigma are no longer issues with menstruation. Earlier this year, I was able to convince FEMA to add feminine hygiene products to the list of items that homeless assistance providers can purchase with federal grant funds, and this month Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation – for which I strongly advocated – that improves access to menstrual hygiene items for women and girls in New York City. Also last week, Governor Cuomo signed a measure into law that eliminates the New York State sales tax for feminine hygiene products, a move I called for as well. The momentum for menstrual equality continues to grow and we will keep up the fight. I call on my colleagues in the House to pass these pieces of legislation as soon as Congress reconvenes in September.”
"The inequitable taxation on our periods can be found at every level of society from the pervasive stigma women face for menstruating to the poor accessibility to menstrual hygiene products,” said Ferreras-Copeland. “New York City has taken a giant leap towards menstrual equity by guaranteeing pads and tampons in schools, shelters and prisons; and Rep. Grace Meng's legislation goes beyond to rectify the problem for the workforce and low-income families. I applaud Rep. Meng for advocating for women's health and women's rights; and I am proud to work with women across this state and the country to end menstrual taboos and bring us into the 21st century where women's bodies are respected."
Ferreras-Copeland sponsored several of the bills signed into law by Mayor de Blasio.
Click here to view the letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
In addition to the new bills, Meng is sponsoring legislation that would allow Americans to buy feminine hygiene products with money from flexible spending accounts. The Congresswoman also called on key Congressional panels to help with her efforts in making menstrual hygiene products more accessible to women.