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Press Releases - County Council

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, November 14, 2023

From the Office of Councilmember Will Jawando

Today, Montgomery County Councilmember and Education and Culture Committee Chair Will Jawando introduced Bill 42-23, the Menstrual Products Access and Equity Act.

The Menstrual Products Access and Equity Act and its accompanying health regulation will directly improve menstrual equity and reduce period poverty in Montgomery County. Period poverty, or lack of access to over-the-counter products to manage menstrual bleeding, affects more than 35 percent of the world’s population, including residents in Montgomery County. Menstrual inequity can impact an individual’s physical and mental health, education, work and ability to participate freely in society.

Under the bill, menstrual products must be made available at no cost in certain public accommodations with publicly accessible bathrooms. Montgomery County Code Section 27-10 lists several types of public accommodations, however, Bill 42-23 only requires menstrual products in public accommodations that are required by law to have a bathroom available to the general public and are permanent facilities, like County buildings, restaurants and conference centers.

“Menstruation isn’t optional for those who menstruate in our County,” said Councilmember Jawando. “Reliable access to basic menstrual products shouldn’t be either. Anyone who uses a public restroom expects to find the basic supplies needed to be healthy: clean running water, a functioning toilet, toilet paper and soap. Menstrual supplies are critical to public health.”

This legislation builds on the efforts of state-level policies, including the 2021 Maryland law, HB0205, requiring all middle and high schools to install menstrual product dispensers in women’s restrooms by 2025, which Montgomery County Public Schools is working to implement. Maryland also exempts menstrual products from the six percent state sales tax and requires correctional facilities to make menstrual products available to all female inmates upon admission, at request and on a routine basis.

“Public restrooms should provide patrons with access to free menstrual hygiene products as they would to other hygiene products such as toilet paper,” said Becky Wimmer, executive director of The Maryland Academy of Family Physicians. “Menstrual female hygiene products are a medical necessity. Access to these products is a gender equality issue with public health implications.”

The following organizations support broader public access to menstrual products across the United States:

  • American Academy of Family Physicians and Maryland Academy of Family Physicians;
  • National Office and Montgomery County Chapter;
  • The Alliance for Period Supplies; and
  • Planned Parenthood.

The Maryland Academy of Family Physicians, the Montgomery County Black Collective, the Greater DC Diaper Bank, and the National Office of PERIOD have endorsed Bill 42-23.

Following the bill’s introduction today, a public hearing is scheduled for Dec. 5, 2023 at 1:30 p.m.

The full text of the bill and health regulation can be read here.

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Release ID: 23-375
Media Contact: Michelle Whittaker 240-777-7792
Categories: Will Jawando