Two bills seeking to expand the availability of feminine hygiene products in government restrooms across South Carolina are set to receive a hearing this week. According to a public notice posted this week (.pdf), five members of the S.C. medical, military, public and municipal affairs committee will take up these bills at a subcommittee meeting at 9:00 a.m. EST on Thursday, March 5, 2020.
The subcommittee is chaired by Democratic state representative Leola Robinson of Greenville, S.C. Joining her on the panel are state representatives Kambrell Garvin, Jonathan Hill, Mandy Kimmons and Melissa Oremus.
The first proposed piece of legislation, H. 4784, would require that every building “owned by the (s)tate, or any agency, office, department, division, commission, or institution thereof … must supply feminine hygiene products in each female public restroom, free of charge.”
Free of charge?
Also … exactly how many restrooms are we talking about? And how many feminine hygiene products (defined as “tampons, sanitary napkins, and other similar items”) would it take to keep all of those restrooms well-stocked?
RELATED COVERAGE: AXE THE TAMPON TAX, SOUTH CAROLINA
The second bill, H. 5230, would require that “every state correctional facility, local detention facility, jail, prison camp, work camp, or overnight lockup facility must provide at no charge feminine hygiene products in each female public restroom.”
Again … “at no charge?”
There is always a charge, people. It’s just a question of who pays it.
Anyway, the detention center edict would be accomplished by “converting coin-operated feminine hygiene product dispensers to token-operated dispensers” or by “making feminine hygiene products publicly available in baskets.”
Once again, two obvious questions come to mind: How many facilities are we talking about? And how many feminine hygiene products would it take to stock them?
Because until we have answers to both of those questions (for both of these bills), we cannot answer the most important question of all: How much are all of these tampons going to cost taxpayers?
(Click to view)
(Via: Travis Bell Photography)
Furthermore, when it comes to the state mandating the availability of these products at “local” facilities (i.e. municipal and county property), are state taxpayers going to be compelled to pay the freight?
Or is this … wait for it … a definitional “unfunded mandate,” a situation in which state government orders cities and counties to do something that will cost them money but doesn’t provide them with the money.
To be clear: This news outlet does not have a position on either of these bills. Absent a fiscal impact estimate, how could we?
According to 2018 data, the average per unit price for a box of tampons in the United States was $5.99. Meanwhile the average price per package of sanitary napkins clocked in at around $4.45. How much would it cost to keep tens of thousands of government restrooms stocked with these products every day?
Clearly, we are looking at a significant expense …
“There would absolutely be a fiscal impact,” one legislative monitor told us. “A huge impact.”
Indeed. Especially if female state employees stopped purchasing these products on their own because they were suddenly made available en masse in their workplaces.
We certainly have no issue with feminine hygiene products being provided to inmates at state, county or city detention centers, but is government really about to get into the business of providing tampons for tens of thousands of state employees?
Our view? Lawmakers taking up these bills later this week need to come up with an idea of their fiscal impact before advancing them to the committee level for further consideration. In fact, it is frankly a waste of everyone’s time to discuss these bills absent an estimate of their cost to taxpayers.
What do you think? Vote in our poll and post your thoughts in our always-lively comments section below …
Should South Carolina taxpayers subsidized tampons?
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