Rhode Island State House

STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Susan R. Donovan to provide legal protection to those who donate feminine hygiene products.

“There are tens of thousands of women in this state who struggle to afford the necessity of feminine hygiene products. They are expensive, they aren’t covered by SNAP, and they are rarely donated to food banks or shelters. Corporate donors are reluctant to provide them because some are legally classified as a Class II medical device,” said Representative Donovan (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth). “Providing protection for donors would open the door to manufacturers of these products making large donations, which would make a significant difference in the lives of the many women and girls in Rhode Island who can’t afford these products.” 

Under the bill (2022-H 7140), a good faith-donor of an apparently usable feminine hygiene product to a bona fide charitable or nonprofit organization for free distribution to those in need of the product will not be subject to any criminal penalty for violation of unfair trade practice laws or civil damages arising from the nature, age, packaging, or condition of the product. The bill would not provide immunity for gross negligence or intentional misconduct.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where similar legislation (2022-S 2531) is sponsored by Sen. Alana M. DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown).

The legislation is supported by the Rhode Island Food Bank, Amenity Aid, the Alliance for Period Supplies, the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, the League of Women Voters, and the Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Freedom.

In Rhode Island, 1 in 7 women and girls between the age of 12 and 44 lives below the federal poverty line. One national survey found that 1 in 5 teen girls reports struggling to afford feminine hygiene products or not being able to purchase them at all.

In recent years, the Rhode Island General Assembly has exempted feminine protection products from the state sales tax and required them to be provided in public schools at no cost.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. Although not the founder or original owner, Belmore has been with What'sUpNewp since its early beginnings in 2012.

Belmore was born in Providence, Rhode Island; grew up and graduated high school in Coventry, Rhode Island; and lived in Newport, Rhode Island for more than ten years. He currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals.

He and his wife, Jen, as well as their two dogs (Aero and June), recently moved to Alexandria, Virginia. Belmore travels back and forth to Newport every couple of weeks to cover events, work on story ideas, to meet with What'sUpNewp's on-the-ground contributors, to visit friends, and to eat as much seafood as possible.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.