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Tampons, pads would be available free to Minnesota students, grades 4-12, under bill

A pair of committees at the Capitol this week is set to review the bill and consider adding funding for the menstrual products in an education spending bill later this year.

What are the benefits of a menstraul cup vs. the tampon? (Dreamstime)
What are the benefits of a menstraul cup vs. the tampon? (Dreamstime)

ST. PAUL — Minnesota lawmakers are weighing a proposal to make tampons and pads available to fourth- through 12th-grade students in public and charter schools around the state.

A pair of committees at the Capitol this week is set to review the bill and consider adding funding for the menstrual products in an education spending bill later this year.

On Monday, March 7, Sen. Steve Cwodzinski, DFL-Eden Prairie, said he'd heard from several constituents and advocacy groups about the struggles Minnesota students faced in obtaining period products. The father and educator said he wasn't previously aware of the impact that not having a tampon or pad could have for women and girls.

"Being a guy, unfortunately, I had no idea what issues young women faced," he told the Senate Education and Finance and Policy Committee. "Tomorrow is national Women's Day for America and I can't think of a better bill to hear on the evening of this."

School nurses, community groups and Minnesota students spoke and wrote in favor of the legislation and they said teachers, nurses and others were having to pay out of pocket for the products now. Or, where students and educators could not afford them, students went without or missed school due to their periods.

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Hopkins High School sophomore Elif Ozturk said she'd heard many interactions between fellow students about not having the supplies to get through the day and urged lawmakers to pass the bill to give students peace of mind while at school.

"This is a low-cost effort that would help to keep so many lives from having to miss out on their right to an education, lives like mine, like your daughters' and your granddaughters'," Ozturk said.

A similar bill was set to come before a House education committee on Wednesday, March 10.

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Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter  @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email  dferguson@forumcomm.com.

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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