Illinois passes legislation making feminine hygiene products more accessible to residents

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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed three pieces of legislation this week that made feminine hygiene products more accessible for women and girls throughout the state. The legislation removes financial barriers preventing people from buying hygiene products.

“I’ve made it a top priority to ensure that our state is at the forefront of protecting women’s rights and women’s health – all the more important as attacks against reproductive rights surge across the nation,” Pritzker said. “Thanks to the three bills I’ll sign today, we’re reducing the burden of period poverty and making those very difficult personal choices a little bit rarer in Illinois. Because there’s nothing to be ashamed of in addressing health equity for a mother, a daughter or a sister. Once again, Illinois is demonstrating what it means to stand up for women’s health by protecting their dignity.”

More information on the specific bills below.

House Bill 641

HB 641 guarantees college students have accessibility to feminine products while on campus. All public universities and community colleges across Illinois are now required under the bill to provide free feminine hygiene products in campus bathrooms.

The Board of Trustees at colleges and universities will determine the funding needed to meet the requirement.

“Period poverty is a public health crisis, and these laws will enhance the everyday lives of people struggling to afford necessary menstrual hygiene products,” State Senator Karina Villa said. “Access and affordability of period products will no longer be a barrier to a student’s proper education or a person’s well-being in Illinois.”

HB 641 is effective immediately.

House Bill 155

HB 155 requires the Illinois Department of Human Services to apply for a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service paving the way for SNAP and WIC recipients to use the two programs for diapers and menstrual hygiene products.

Currently, federal waivers are not available to states and under SNAP and WIC feminine hygiene products are not currently allowable. Pritzker said his administration will continue to advocate for the federal government to create such a waiver.

“Across the country, 1 in 4 women regularly struggle to purchase menstrual products due to lack of income,” State Representative Barbara Hernandez said. “Today, Illinois is taking steps to help low-income women in our state overcome that challenge. Fighting against problems like period poverty is a privilege, and I’m so happy to be able to move forward on this issue.”

The bill will take effect Jan. 1, 2022.

House Bill 310

HB 310, titled the Feminine Hygiene Products for the Homeless Act, requires all homeless shelters providing housing assistance to women and youth to make products such as sanitary napkins, tampons and panty liners available free of charge.

“People who have been deprived of so much should not be forced to use other items as makeshift sanitary products,” State Senator Christopher Belt said. “I cannot personally imagine the indignity women in homeless shelters feel. Today, however, is a step toward ensuring no one else has to feel the pain or embarrassment of not having clean, safe feminine hygiene products.”

HB 310 will be effective Jan. 1, 2022.

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