State Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, recently announced legislation to address accessibility to hygiene products in the state.

The measure is called the Hygiene Product Accessibility Act.

“Hygiene products are necessities, not luxuries, and it’s time our laws reflect this fact,” Sargent stated in a news release. “Tampons and pads are simply incomparable to other essential hygiene products. There’s no analogous sex-based tax on any other good and no analogous hygiene need exists — you can choose to use or not to use soap or toothpaste, but there’s no alternative for using hygiene products."

The Hygiene Product Accessibility Act contains two pieces of legislation.

LRB-0272 would require tampons, sanitary napkins, and other feminine hygiene products to be available in restroom facilities of buildings owned, leased or occupied by the state or political subdivisions.

LRB-4682 would create a sales tax exemption for hygiene products, which are currently subject to a state sales and use tax rate of 5 percent.

“This is a sex-based tax and accessibility barrier, and these bills are simply about making sure people aren’t unfairly penalized just because they menstruate,” Sargent stated. “This is especially true for women who are underrepresented at every level, which has historically led to menstruation being financially penalized and socially stigmatized.

"The tax on hygiene products in particular presents a double whammy for women who already make 78 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts  — and even less for women of color — and then have added expenses of hygiene products on top of everything else."

The introduction of the legislation marks the second time both bills have been circulated at the Capitol.

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