After a brief hiatus (and tryptophan-induced nap), the NDBN Policy Update is back. The period following an election is typically a time for planning for the next session. That is certainly true in this case as we watch to see how the new administration and Congress plan their transisitions. Even so, there is excitement at the state level in New Jersey, DC, and possibly Texas and Florida.
The 114th Congressional session is currently in its "lame duck" period, where Congress is busy wrapping up old business in preparation for a new session with a new Congress and a new President. It is unlikely that H.R. 4055 or S.3070 will be included in the limited number of bills that will be voted on during this period of frantic activity. Even so, we have gained a new supporter, Representative Steve Cohen of Tennessee for a total of 57 co-sponsors of H.R. 4055. Although it is unlikely that HR 4055 will pass in this session, we have begun discussing options for introducing diaper need-related legislation in the next session with congressional staff. Stay posted!
The federal goverment may be preparing to finish old business, but some states are considering diaper- and other hygiene product-access as new business for the year ahead.
New Jersey Legislature's Women and Children Committee took up consideration of three diaper related matters: a resolution to recognized September 25--October 1, 2017 as Diaper Need Awareness Week 2017; a resolution to signal their support of the Hygiene Assistance for Families and Toddlers Act (H.R. 4055 in the U.S. House of Representatives); and a bill to provide a $50 monthly voucher for diapers to children under 1 year old enrolled in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. All three resolutions/bills were voted out of the committee with recommendation to forward to the full legislature.
The District of Columbia Council voted to approve a bill to exempt diapers and feminine hygiene products from the District's sales tax. The mayor has indicated her willingness to sign the legislation (by law she must approve or deny by December 6), but due to the unique nature of DC's position as the site of the U.S. Capitol, the bill will require the approval of the U.S. Congress.
The Texas state legislature is considering several bills to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax. SB 129, SB 162, and HB 219 would all exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax, while HB 55 and HB 232 would include feminine hygiene products for exemption during the state's sales tax holiday. The general session just started, so there's still time to write to the legislators and ask them to include diapers in those bills.
In Florida, Representative Katie Edwards has introduced HB 63 to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax. The 2017 General Session has only just begun, so there is still time to write to Rep. Edwards or other Florida legislators to ask them to add diapers to the bill.
Family Caps on TANF. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is a federal block grant program that is administered by the states. As with such programs, administration varies widely. Several states include a Family Cap which limits the amount of assistance a family can receive to the size of the family when they first go on assistance, and does not provide any additional funding should the family grow with a new baby. When states first implemented TANF, many put these caps in place on the theory that they would reduce subsequent pregnancy for families on assistance. In reality, they have no effect on pregnancy rates, but do adversely affect families with young children who need help to provide for them. Currently, caps are still in place in Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Massachussetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. If you would like to get involved in this effort in your state, contact Alison.
Reframing Social Issues Before, During and After an Election Our friends at The National Human Services Assembly, along with Frameworks, have put together a webinar about how to talk about your issues with candidates and elected leaders on both sides of the aisle. You can check it out here.
Being a Successful Advocate Want to get more involved in diaper advocacy, but not sure how to do so? Here are some tips on being a successful advocate from Good, the online magazine. And be sure to contact NDBN for help with talking points, facts and figures, and everything you need to advocate to end diaper need in your city, county, or state.