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Virginia prisoners a step closer to free feminine hygiene products

(WHSV)
Published: Feb. 23, 2018 at 6:16 PM EST
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Prisons and jails in Virginia would have to start providing female inmates with free feminine hygiene products under a bill making its way through the General Assembly. The Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee unanimously backed

, sponsored by Del. Kaye Kory, D-Fairfax, on Friday. The bill won unanimous approval in the House on Feb. 13. It now goes to the full Senate.

The Virginia Department of Corrections already offers pads at no charge, but tampons are only available through commissaries, meaning inmates have to pay for them. Officials said the previously estimated $33,769 annual cost to supply the products could be covered within the department’s budget. The State Board of Corrections has yet to determine how local and regional jails who don’t already provide free products will pay for them.

“This is a great way to start a Friday,” Kory said after the morning meeting Last week, Kory’s

, which called for removing the sales tax on feminine hygiene products, was killed in the House along with the remaining “tampon tax” bills, which proposed

tax exemptions on the items during the state’s three day tax-free period in August and year-round.

Holly Seibold, a member of the Virginia Menstrual Equity Coalition, said although the group is disappointed the legislation failed, they are encouraged by progress toward free products for women who are incarcerated.

Del. Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax, introduced two bills this year and one last year proposing tax-exemptions for feminine hygiene products, but none of the bills were approved. Still, she said she plans to introduce similar legislation moving forward.