Call Your School Nurse: State DOE Approves Distribution of $1M For Menstrual Products

On Thursday, August 22nd, the State Board of Education approved the Department of Education’s proposal for distributing the $1M budget expenditure authorized by the legislature in the 2019 Session!

According to Board Documents, 

these grant funds were provided in the Georgia Department of Education Agency budget as a line item for fiscal year 2020 to provide feminine hygiene products to low-income students.”  

To us, that one sentence is the culmination of two years of advocacy work and is just the beginning of what is needed!

A glance at the chart showing the Allocation by School System quickly reveals that allocated amounts seem low, given that some systems received as little as $50.00.  Nevertheless, Georgia is a national menstrual equity leader, by allocating any money at all towards this need.  

It is now a role of the Georgia STOMP coalition to get the message to as many school nurses as possible. They need to know that this money exists and they should contact their Superintendent to find out how it will be allocated in their district!

According to Board documents, again, “An end of year survey will be conducted” to ensure satisfactory performance and “accounting codes for this budget item will be tracked in GAORS.”  The performance measurements will be “based on distribution of products and percentage of product remaining at the end of the school year.”

If the information we have collected is correct, that amount should be NONE if school nurses actually know this money exists!

Call your local school nurse today and let them know to ask their Superintendent for the money!

 

Women and Girls’ Policy Stakeholder Roundtable

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The Women and Girls’ Policy Stakeholder Roundtable is an Atlanta gathering committed to improving the lives of women and girls in Georgia. It is hosted twice a year by the YWCA of Greater ATL. Numerous organizations reflect together on the “Good, the Bad and the Ugly” of the past legislative session and communicate each group’s advocacy plans, facilitating collaborations for the next year. Georgia STOMP was honored to be the focus presentation for this summer’s gathering! 

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On Friday, August 16th, Claire Cox, Georgia STOMP co-lead, updated the gathering on the growth of our statewide coalition and our mission to address period poverty and menstrual equity in Georgia.  There were many nods of agreement as Claire related that a general lack of understanding about women’s menstrual needs has led to inequity not just in our tax base, but in institutions and public spaces across the state.

The morning meant Claire, based in Macon, was able to meet coalition member leaders and other contacts who she had only “met” via telephone conference. In other instances, new organizations expressed interest in knowing more about the work of Georgia STOMP.

It was an inspiring and energizing morning and hopefully a new point of growth for the Coalition!

 

 

RoundtableClaire

 

 

Georgia STOMP can come to you!

Would your group like to hear about the work of Georgia STOMP?

If you are only recently learning about the issues of Period Poverty and Menstrual Equity: don’t worry, you are not alone! For those who have never struggled to purchase menstrual products, the realization that numerous women and young girls can’t afford this basic need can be overwhelming. And if you’ve never thought about why menstrual products haven’t been considered “basic needs” by emergency management agencies or sales tax codes, and aren’t provided in public restrooms the same as soap and toilet paper are, the idea of Menstrual Equity is new to you!

Georgia STOMP is working with organizations, policy-makers, and advocates across the state to ensure that menstruation ceases to be a barrier to an equitable society.

Leaders of Georgia STOMP are available to speak to your group or organization about Period Poverty, Menstrual Equity and the legislative and advocacy work we have undertaken, including a great many successes already accomplished!

The following is an excerpt from a report made by Rev. Nana’ Kratochvil, V. P. and Program Chair for the League of Women Voters in Macon following a recent program by Georgia STOMP.

Claire Cox, one of the leaders of Georgia Women (and Those Who Stand With Us), brought her passion and advocacy to the League of Women Voters at their regular meeting on April 17th. She shared with us the work Georgia Women is doing to bring fairness and justice to women.  Georgia STOMP (Stop Tax on Menstrual Products) is a coalition working to eliminate taxes on women’s health products.  Cox told us of the difficult choices faced by poor families when their daughters reached the age of first menses. If the choice to buy food is made, their daughters are unable to attend school, or made do with home made substitutes for pads, tampons or menstrual cups.  Several organizations are donating supplies to schools and shelters, but a better, fairer answer must be found. The products would be more affordable is their price did not include a sales tax.

Ms. Cox shared with members of the League the successful attempts to find sponsors for the bill that was introduced to the Georgia Legislature that would eliminate sales taxes on these products. She traced the fate of the bill in the 2019 legislative session. Although it was not successful this session, a cadre of legislators is now awakened to the need for such a bill.  Georgia Women and their Allies will work for its success at the next session.

Members of the League appreciated Ms. Cox’s presentation.  Some members are already participating in the activities of Georgia Women, and others are interested. We look forward to working together in the future.

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$1.5 Million for Menstruating Georgians

It has been a busy final stretch down under the Gold Dome, and the final 2019-2020 Budget just passed this week with an important addition. Thank you to all the advocates, delegates, and communities who have rallied and continue to rally around an end to #periodpoverty!

$1 million was added to “increase funds for grants to schools for feminine hygiene products for low-income students.”

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$500,000 was added to “increase funds for feminine hygiene products to be provided to low-income clients at county health departments.”

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November Coalition Summit Gathering

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Rep. Debbie Buckner and Sen. Tonya Anderson with some of the participants in the November 30th Coalition Summit.

On November 30th, members of Georgia STOMP assembled in Macon for a second time to discuss the coalition’s progress during the six months since its May meeting. The group had grown, with additional legislators, an energized Junior League presence, the addition of League of Women Voters – Macon and period supply groups in Georgia, and strengthened college representation.

Whereas the focus of the May meeting was strictly on the elimination of Georgia’s sales tax, the discussions in November expanded to include a wide range of issues related to period poverty, menstrual equity and facilitating access in public facilities, particularly schools, prisons and following natural disasters.

The coalition officially adopted the name Georgia STOMP (Stop Tax On Menstrual Products) and its logo, designed by Rubi McGrory of Project Period – Savannah.

Priorities for 2019:

  1. Elimination of State Sales Tax on Menstrual Products – carried by Rep. Debbie Buckner.
  2. School Pilot Study to show needs of students in Georgia public schools – carried by Rep. Kim Schofield.
  3. Work with GEMA to align the list of basic-needs supplies eligible for purchase with their funds after an emergency with FEMA’s list, and meet with GEMA leadership to assist supply chain and storage of period products after a disaster.

 

 

HB731 Conclusion

 

 

HB 731

HB 731 eliminating state sales tax on feminine hygiene products did not make it beyond Crossover Day and is thus dead for the 2018 Legislative session.

Sponsored by a statewide coalition of women’s groups, spearheaded by Georgia Women (And Those Who Stand With Us) and including the Junior Leagues of Georgia State Public Affairs Committee, this bill sought a remedy for an obvious inequity: women, who are already at an economic disadvantage in our state, are taxed on a product that is a necessity, not a choice, and for which there is no male equivalency. Feminine hygiene products are classified as medical devices by the FDA and our state legislature has given exemptions to similar items in the past.

In a year when we gave big corporations and tobacco users tax reductions, why could this easy fix to an unfair tax on women not be made? At a time when gubernatorial candidates were calling for a sales tax holiday on guns and ammo, who was thinking about the mothers and daughters in our state?

This bill enjoyed strong bipartisan support (4 R and 3 D Original Signers) and much appreciation is due to Rep. Debbie Buckner and Rep. Allen Peake for their leadership on this issue.

Our coalition is absolutely returning to the legislature next year.
Perhaps we need to send some more women to ATL in 2019!