An Update on Federal and State Legislation Involving Diapers
Over the years, various federal and state laws have been enacted involving diapers. Those laws range from mandating changing stations in public restrooms, to tax incentives for diaper donations, to providing federal and state funding to low-income families for diapers and diapering supplies. Despite existing laws, there is much to be done. Significant legislation providing adequate funding for diapering needs is lacking. In fact, in 2017, one in three American families reported experiencing diaper needs. Over the last couple of years, a few important pieces of legislation have been passed, and various others have been introduced, but are still pending. What follows is a brief synopsis of a few key pieces of current and pending legislation:
October 2016: The BABIES Act, or Bathrooms Accessible In Every Situation Act, (Pub.L. 114–235) is a United States federal law that was passed by the United States Congress in September 2016 and signed into law by US President Barack Obama on October 7, 2016. The law requires changing tables in all publicly accessible federal buildings. In particular, the law received attention for requiring that such baby-changing accommodations be available in both male and female restrooms, ending the practice of providing changing tables only in women’s restrooms.
July 2017: Nevada created a state committee to research opportunities to increase the availability of diapers and diapering supplies to recipients of public assistance and other low-income families. The committee is specifically empaneled to: (1) use money received from the federal government to carry out a program of public assistance or other program for which the department is responsible; and (2) obtain donations of money, diapers, diapering supplies or any combination thereof, including, without limitation, in-kind donations and donations from private foundations, manufacturers of diapers and diapering supplies and other sources. See Nev. Rev. Stat. § AB 340, § 2.
October 2017: A new state law in California, Assembly Bill 1127, was passed that requires at least one diaper changing station available to men and women in publicly owned state and local buildings and private businesses throughout California. The law requires buildings owned by the state or local agency and public venues, such as movie theaters, grocery stores, and restaurants, to be equipped with at least one diaper changing table available to men and women. The law will also apply to new construction and any restroom renovations that exceed $10,000.
January 2018: New York Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into effect Bill 1241-A, which requires that public buildings provide diaper changing stations to all New York City parents. New York City is one of the first cities in the nation to make this enforcement in new or recently renovated buildings.
February 2017: U.S. House Bill 1143: Hygiene Assistance for Families of Infants and Toddlers Act of 2017. This bill amends the Public Health Service Act to direct the Administration for Children and Families of the Department of Health and Human Services to award grants to states or local governments, Indian tribes or tribal organizations, or nonprofit organizations to conduct demonstration projects to help low-income families address the diapering needs of their children.
February 2017: Illinois HB3895 was proposed, which provides that a person is eligible for a diaper allowance of $80 per month per child if all of the following conditions are met: (i) the person’s household income is at or below 50% of the federal poverty guidelines; (ii) the person is responsible for the welfare of a child 3 years of age or younger; and (iii) the child who is 3 years of age or younger receives medical assistance under the Illinois Public Aid Code. The bill provides that the diaper allowance may be used only to purchase diapers and shall be issued through an electronic benefit transfer card. Further, the bill provides that the diaper allowance is not considered income for purposes of determining eligibility or the amount of assistance for any public aid benefit provided under State law.
July 2017: U.S. House Bill H.Res.490 is a bill that expresses support for the goals and ideals of “National Diaper Need Awareness Week” and gratitude for those who operate or support diaper banks and distribution programs. The bill also encourages people to donate generously to such organizations.
October 2017: 2017 Pennsylvania House Bill No. 1815 – The Act provides for the Community Diaper and Incontinence Products Grant Program; establishing the Community Diaper and Incontinence Products Grant Program Fund; directing the Department of Aging to establish a program to improve access to incontinence supplies; and imposing powers and duties on the Department of Human Services.
February 2018: Illinois SB2881 was introduced, which provides that female and male condoms, incontinence products, diapers, and baby wipes shall be taxed by the State at a rate of 1% (currently, 6.25%). The bill provides that the net revenue from the 1% tax collected from the sale of those products shall be deposited into the State and Local Sales Tax Reform Fund.
February 2018: New Jersey A3383 would require baby diaper-changing stations in any newly constructed men or women’s public restroom maintained in places of public accommodation within the State. It would also require any place of public accommodation to install changing stations during renovations to existing restrooms, costing $5,000 or more. The bill would further require the owner or operator of a place of public accommodation to install a changing station in the men’s restrooms if one is already included in the women’s restrooms.
Also in February 2018, New Jersey AR122 was introduced, which urges Congress and the President to enact legislation creating a program to subsidize the purchase of diapers.
February 2018: Missouri Senate Bill 1015 was introduced, which would amend a prior law by adding a new section relating to tax credits for contributions to diaper banks.