Bill would exempt feminine hygiene products from state sales tax

Feminine hygiene products would be exempt from the state sales tax under a bill proposed this week in the Georgia Legislature.

For reproductive-age women, that time of the month means time to shell out money for the products: about $7 monthly per person on average, according to a group that advocates for the exemption.

And each time they do, they’re also paying the 4 percent state sales tax.

The advocacy group, Georgia Women (And Those Who Stand With Us), estimates that the tax paid on those products adds up to $10 million a year.

The bill spells out some of the products to be exempted as “tampons, menstrual pads” and others.

The legislation, House Bill 731, was proposed by Rep. Debbie Buckner, D-Junction City. Four of her first five co-sponsors are Republicans, members of the majority party in the General Assembly.

Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, said he signed on because the products should have been exempted years ago along with groceries and medical devices.

“I think there’s a valid argument that it’s a medical necessity,” Peake said. “There were some constituents of mine who approached me about it, some ladies in my area. The more they explained to me, the more it made sense.”

Legislators frequently field special-interests' requests for tax exemptions.

This year’s financial environment has both advantages and disadvantages for the exemption proposal.

On the one hand the state's economy is good, and Gov. Nathan Deal has assembled a rainy day fund of $2.3 billion. However, lawmakers will also have to spend at least $361 million extra this year on teacher pensions, and much of the rest of the budget is spoken for.

Georgia women modeled the exemption legislation on Florida’s, which went into effect last year. The other states that have similar exemptions are Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.