In celebration of International Women’s Day, the Women’s Foundation of Greater St Louis hosted “Food or Period Hygiene: It Doesn’t Have to be a Choice!” sponsored by The Women Lawyer’s Association of Greater St Louis. This webinar highlighted Missouri state’s proposed legislation that aims to reduce period poverty by eliminating the Pink Tax on period and diaper products and providing free products in schools and prisons. Our webinar featured: 

  • Rasheen Aldridge – Missouri State Representative, Sponsor of House Bill 406 

  • Ingrid Burnett – Missouri State Representative, Sponsor of House Bill 225 

  • Jo Doll – Missouri State Representative, Sponsor of House Bill 699 

  • Barbara Phifer – Missouri State Representative, Sponsor of House Bill 899 

During the webinar Charlin shared that in St Louis, one in three menstruating people will experience period poverty yearly, and of those three people, two will experience period poverty monthly. This data highlights the importance of these pieces of legislation, as thousands of people are unable to access period or diaper products. Representative Aldridge shared that HB-406, which will lower the tax rate of period hygiene products to the same rate as food, was inspired by two previous Bills brought forward (HB-2065, 2020 and HB-741, 2019). Representative Aldridge is also co-sponsoring HB-318 which allows inmates to access free period hygiene products while incarcerated. When asked what inspired Representative Aldridge to sponsor and co-sponsor these Bills, he shared: 

“The fact that there was this additional tax for these, I don’t want to just say women products because I know we have our trans community, these hygiene products just blew my mind… For me, my biggest thing is that I’m a legislator, I feel like I’m here to make sure systems that are oppressing people are being reversed no matter if you are a person of color or a woman… There is no additional tax on any male products, so why should there be an additional tax on hygiene products that people can use.”  

Representative Doll shared that her Bill is also inspired by a previous Bill that would also lower the tax rate for period products. Representative Doll shared that the current tax rate is 4% and HB-699 would lower the tax rate to just over 1%. This lower tax rate would save $11 million each year just through taxes. Representative Phifer’s Bill, HB-899, would also lower tax rates for period products and would also lower the tax for diaper products. The Bill brought forward by Representative Burnett, HB-225, requires public and charter schools to provide period products for six to 12 grade students, free of charge. 

Period Poverty impacts menstruating people in a variety of ways – those who are experiencing economic insecurity are often left to make the difficult decision of paying for food or menstrual products.  These products are also often not recognized as necessities, which means government-assistance programs do not cover the costs for them.  The cost often leaves many menstruating people with no choice but to use alternatives such as paper towels and rags in place of commercial products, and even miss days of work at a time when those alternatives are inadequate. 

How You Can Help End Period Poverty in St Louis 

  • Reach out to your Representatives and urge them to support these Bills, and future Bills that strive to bring an end to period poverty. 

  • Reach directly out to Speaker Rob Vescovo and urge him to refer these Bills and future Bills to committees. 

  • Draw attention to the issue of period poverty – Share information with your friends and family, speak out against oppressive systems. 

Learn More about Missouri Bills that Address Period Poverty 

Reduce Tax on Period Products: 

  • HB 406: Beginning October 1, 2021, this bill reduces the state sales and use tax rate on retail sales of feminine hygiene products and diapers to equal the reduced state sales tax rate imposed on the retail sale of food. 

  • HB 699: Beginning October 1, 2021, this bill reduces the state sales and use tax rate on retail sales of feminine hygiene products and diapers to equal the reduced state sales tax rate imposed on the retail sale of food. 

  • HB 899: Beginning October 1, 2021, this bill reduces the state sales and use tax rate on retail sales of feminine hygiene products and diapers to equal the reduced state sales tax rate imposed on the retail sale of food. 

  • HB 793: Beginning October 1, 2021, this bill reduces the state sales and use tax rate on retail sales of feminine hygiene products and diapers to equal the reduced state sales tax rate imposed on the retail sale of food. 

Access in Schools: 

  • HB 225: Beginning on July 1, 2022, this bill requires every public school and charter school to provide period products in the restrooms for all middle school, junior high, and high school buildings in which there are students in grades six through 12 at no charge to the students. “Period Products” are defined as tampons and sanitary napkins for use in connection with the menstrual cycle. 

  • HB 653: Beginning on July 1, 2022, this bill requires every public school and charter school to provide period products in the restrooms for all middle school, junior high, and high school buildings in which there are students in grades six through 12 at no charge to the students. 

Access in Prisons: 

  • HB 318: This bill specifies that the Director of the Department of Corrections must ensure that tampons and sanitary napkins are available for free to offenders while they are confined in any of the Department’s correctional centers. 

  • Contact Representative Andrew McDaniel, Chairmen, Corrections and Public Institutions 

  • HB 318: St. Louis Public Radio & St. Louis Post-Dispatch 

 

The Women’s Foundation of Greater St Louis would like to thank all our amazing panelists and sponsor, The Women Lawyer’s Association of Greater St Louis, for participating in this webinar. To learn more about the Women’s Foundation work to address period poverty, be sure to check out our Seeking Solutions Symposium Follow Up Report on Period Poverty in St Louis from 2019. To watch the “Food or Period Hygiene: It Doesn’t Have to be a Choice!” webinar, click this link. 

Join us for our next Seeking Solutions Symposium – Women in the Economy: An Underleveraged Powerhouse and Why it Matters to Businesses and Communities

REGISTER HERE