Legislative Advocacy in Washington State with IGNITE

During the 2019 Washington state legislative session, IGNITE young women chose to advocate for House Bill 1053 to repeal the “tampon tax”. House Bill 1053 would make menstrual hygiene products like tampons, sanitary napkins, and menstrual cups, tax exempt.

#IGNITEtheCapitol Washington State 2019

During the 2019 Washington state legislative session, IGNITE young women chose to advocate for House Bill 1053 to repeal the “tampon tax”.

"IGNITE's Seattle College Council decided to fight against the tampon tax because women's basic needs should not be economically exploited. The fact that tampons and diapers are taxed while Viagra is not is evidence of the gender disparity within American politics. Intentional or not, a tax on tampons gives cis-men the power to regulate our bodies. The tampon tax is an economic burden to anyone who menstruates, including trans-men, while it disproportionately hurts poor women of color."

- Louie Tan Vital, IGNITE Seattle Fellow, University of Washington, Evans School of Public Policy and Governance

House Bill 1053 would make menstrual hygiene products like tampons, sanitary napkins, and menstrual cups, tax exempt.

IGNITE women attended IGNITE the Capitol in Olympia, Washington on February 25, 2019 to advocate for House Bill 1053. These young advocates concluded their day of advocacy feeling heard, empowered, and eager to continue championing the causes they care about through legislative advocacy:

"I want to be more aware of the policy work that is being initiated in Washington. I’ll look to the Ignite  College Chapter at the University of Washington to keep me informed about these policies and look forward to future opportunities to advocate for bills I believe in."

- Mekdes Abate, University of Washington

"Something that surprised me about the legislative advocacy process is how supportive the legislators were. They made the time to listen to my concerns and were open-minded about my suggestions.”

-  President Elena Fazeli, Seattle College Council, University of Washington

"I was inspired to advocate for this bill because of the inequality caused by the current tax. I was equally surprised that so many people were unaware of it. Going to Olympia, I know I could make a difference and raise awareness."  

- Janani Iyer, University of Washington

Less than 48 hours after their visit to Olympia, the advocates got exciting news. Their time and effort meeting with more than 30 Washington state legislators and staffers paid off. The bill made it out of the Finance Committee.

Update (4/8/2019): The provisions in HB 1053 was wrapped into the budget bill that was included by both the State Senate and House. The budget is currently under consideration.


Be an Advocate for House Bill 1053: Axe the Tampon Tax

Bill Summary: Essential feminine hygiene products are unaffordable for many Washingtonians and as a first step, removing taxes to for these products will help to alleviate the issue. According to the State Department of Revenue, women in Washington still pay over $5 million annually in taxes on tampons, sanitary napkins, and menstrual cups. Washington currently exempts the sales tax for prescription drugs and food items that are deemed necessities. Menstrual health products are not tax exempt in Washington even though they are deemed medical necessities by the Federal Drug Administration. Feminine hygiene products are not a luxury and women should not be penalized.

Sign the statement of support Advocacy toolkit for HB 1053 Bill Status Call Script 


More about Legislative Advocacy at IGNITE

Political power includes amplifying voice and perspective to advocate for the issues IGNITE women care about most. IGNITE participants and alumni are championing policies that uplift women and youth, like protecting women's rights and maximizing voter participation.

In our Legislative Advocacy training IGNITE, young women learn:

  • the basics of why it is critical their voice is heard,
  • how to be an effective advocate, and
  • the ins and outs of their local and states’ lawmaking process.

Following training, IGNITE women head to state capitols across the country for a hands-on advocacy experience. On “IGNITE the Capitol” visits, young women:

  • meet with state legislators and staffers to advocate for a specific bill,
  • foster connections with IGNITE women from across the state,
  • tour the capitol to learn the state government’s history and see democracy in action, and
  • share IGNITE’s work and mission with elected officials and staffers.