RICHMOND – The Senate joined the House Tuesday in unanimously approving a bill that requires Virginia jails and prisons to provide inmates with free feminine hygiene products such as pads and tampons.
If Gov. Ralph Northam signs it, House Bill 83 would take effect in July.
The bill, sponsored by Del. Kaye Kory, D-Fairfax, also received unanimous approval in the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee.
Other legislation this session to remove the sales tax on feminine hygiene products, along with bills for exemptions during the state’s three day tax-free period in August and year-round failed to advance past House committees.
“It’s appalling that this was ever even an issue,” said Katrina Reid, a supporter of HB 83.
Currently, the Virginia Department of Corrections and some local and regional jails offer pads to inmates for free; however, tampons must be purchased. The cost to prisons will be included in the department’s budget and was estimated at $33,769. The cost has yet to be determined for jails.
The State Board of Corrections will be responsible for creating the feminine hygiene policy in the correctional facilities. Some states such as Arizona and Colorado offer inmates menstrual supplies but limit the number of pads and tampons allowed per month. The board has not yet decided whether it will set such a limit.
By Tianna Mosby
Capital News Service