By Lori Kersey, WV Charleston Gazette-Mail
County school boards would have to provide feminine hygiene produces to students who need them under a bill that passed the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee on Thursday.
A committee substitute for Senate Bill 86 would require school boards to provide the products to girls in grades 6 through 12 who don’t otherwise have access to them.
Alisa Clements, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, testified that she learned from a school administrator that some female students in Monongalia County, where she lives, miss school because they don’t have access to menstrual products. It’s especially a problem for students from poor families, she said.
“I thought, if this is happening in Monongalia County, Morgantown, a very resource-heavy area, what does that mean for other areas that don’t have the type of opportunities we have?” Clements said. “So we worked on this legislation.”
The bill as introduced called for making the products available for every female student in sixth through 12th grades, which would cost an estimated $2.5 million, said committee Chairman Michael Maroney, R-Marshall.
Committee counsel Cindy Dellinger said revising the bill to specify that the products would only be made available to students who don’t otherwise have access means the cost to county school boards would be less.
Maroney, a doctor, said he supports the bill even though it is an unfunded mandate to counties.
The committee voted to refer the bill to the Senate Finance Committee and then the full Senate. The bill doesn’t have a fiscal note attached, and Maroney said he may ask Senate Finance Chairman Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, to waive taking up the bill and send it to the full Senate.
The committee’s agenda called for a discussion of another bill (SB 564) that would expand Medicaid coverage for pregnant women. Maroney said that bill needed more work, but the committee does plan to take it up later.
Also Thursday: the committee passed a bill (SB 300) that would allow adult adoptees to access certain adoption records. Birth parents would have to provide certain health information at the time of adoption, and would be able to fill out a form about whether they wanted to be contacted by their biological child. DHHR would administer the records.
Gary Thompson, registrar of vital statistics, testified that the bill would cost DHHR about $115,000 a year, as the department would need two staff members to work on the records.