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A Conservative’s plan for free tampons at Washington colleges

Rep. Melanie Stambaugh. (Washington House Republicans)

A House bill in Olympia aims to establish a new $1 million government program that will provide free tampons to students at Washington colleges.

“The Conservative argument is that we want to support our students achieving their education,” Representative Melanie Stambaugh told 770 KTTH’s Jason Rantz. “Currently, at our community and technical college campuses, 56 percent of the students are female. The median age is 26. These students often have more difficult financial situations. Hence, why they are going through the community and technical college system. We want to ensure that when a woman needs — often times in an emergency situation — a product, that she has it available to her.”

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Stambaugh is a Republican representative for the state’s 25th District (Puyallup). HB 2863 proposes to provide free tampons at community and technical colleges in Washington state. There are 34 such institutions in the state.

If approved, it would cost taxpayers an estimated $1 million a year to provide free tampons. But Stambaugh believes that is an overestimate. Washington State University in Vancouver already provides the feminine hygiene products for free, so she is looking at those costs for a more accurate estimate.

Stambaugh notes that the tampons currently available to students at colleges — for a price — don’t align with modern spending habits because they require people to carry cash. She says that only about 24 percent of purchases are made in cash nowadays.

The representative says professors at some colleges are already providing free tampons.

She knows there’s a need for it in Washington.

“The idea for this bill actually came to me from a student at Pierce College in Puyallup,” Stambaugh said. “She had noticed that many of the tampon and feminine hygiene product dispensers in the bathrooms weren’t stocked. So she started doing some research and found that there is a wave across the country where many four-year universities are now providing tampons for free.”

Listen to the entire conversation here.

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