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State Proposal To Drop Sales Tax On Tampons And Diapers Killed In Committee

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(Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Huggies)
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A proposal to exempt diapers and feminine hygiene products from California sales taxes was shot down in a California State Assembly committee on Monday. The bill, which was introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) and Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) would have modestly increased the excise tax on hard liquor to recoup the lost revenue.

Although California law provides exemptions for food and prescription medicines, health necessities such as diapers, tampons and other feminine hygiene products remain taxed. Currently, there is no federal assistance for diapers, and they cannot be obtained using food stamps or other welfare programs, which can make their cost especially burdensome for low-income families. According to the bill's authors, diapers can cost young families between $80 and $100 per child per month, and a repeal of the diaper tax could save families much as $100 annually—enough to pay for a month’s worth of diapers for a child.

“Common sense is that liquor is a choice and a luxury and human biology is not,” Garcia, who also serves as Chair of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, said in a statement. “There is no happy hour for menstruation. Our tax code needs to reflect the fact that it’s not ok to tax women for being born women.”

"Diapers are like gold to the low-income families in our program at Baby2Baby. These families are spending up to 14% of their after tax income on this one item. Yet, diapers are subject to sales tax of a luxury item. And as any mom can tell you, there is nothing luxurious about a dirty diaper," Norah Weinstein, co-president of Baby2Baby, a nonprofit that provides low-income children with diapers and other necessities, told LAist. "It's time for California to catch up to the seven states in this country that have stopped taxing diapers."

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The L.A. Times reports that Governor Jerry Brown vetoed similar but separate legislation brought forth by Gonzalez Fletcher and Garcia last year because of state budgetary concerns around the tax cuts. The liquor industry "vigorously fought" the new proposal, according to the Sacramento Bee, despite the fact the excise tax on hard liquor has not been raised in nearly three decades. The Bee reports that Gonzalez Fletcher and Garcia also refused an amendment proposed by committee chair Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (yes, the son of L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas) which would have removed the alcohol tax revenue source from the bill.

All but one of the members of the Assembly Tax and Revenue Committee, which killed the bill, were male.