TRENTON – Senators amended a bill that would require schools to provide students access to free feminine hygiene products to exclude boys’ bathrooms from the planned mandate.

The original bill set off a bit of a firestorm because it would have applied to all bathrooms in every school educating students in grades 6 through 12.

The bill, S1221, hadn’t been listed on the Senate Education Committee agenda but was added just before Thursday’s meeting. According to a summary of the amendments read by a committee aide, feminine hygiene products would have to be available in at least 50% of female bathrooms in a school.

'We heard from the public, and it’s very important that these bills be thoroughly vetted,'

Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, the committee chairman, said he had gotten input on the changes from lawmakers and Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz, D-Essex, the bill’s lead sponsor.

“I appreciate their feedback and talked to the sponsor for the intent of the bill, and she wanted to make sure the intent was very clear,” Gopal said.

Sen. Michael Doherty, R-Warren, said the amendments are “a positive development, as I consider it” and also make the Legislature’s intent clear to any courts who might review the law in the future.

“I think this is why it’s critical, the committee process, because we heard from the public, and it’s very important that these bills be thoroughly vetted. And I think that was done in this case,” Doherty said.

Under the bill, the state would have to pay for the costs associated with the bill, which is designed to particularly help low-income students with access to needed products.

The bill was also amended to refer to the tampons and sanitary napkins as "menstrual products," rather than feminine hygiene products.

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Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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