BISMARCK-Women in North Dakota will remain among the vast majority in states in which the purchase of feminine hygiene products is subject to sales and use taxes. A bill to change that was widely defeated by the Senate Wednesday.
Support for Senate Bill 2254 was minimal, going down by a 3-43 vote. It would have added tampons and sanitary napkins to the list of items in state statute exempt from sales and use tax. It would have taken effect June 30.
Most states exempt a number of items from sales tax. As of last summer, at least six states had an exemption for feminine hygiene products as well as another five states that don't have any sales tax in statute.
The topic has built up steam nationally in the past year or so, with several states introducing legislation for the exemption. Arguments among supporters in other states that have pushed similar legislation include that it's a double-standard and unfair to not exempt such products that are a necessity for women.
Sen. Scott Meyer, R-Grand Forks, carried the bill on the floor.
"We did not feel it was the right time asking for this exemption and also the language in this was a bit ambiguous as to what it covers," Meyer said.
A fiscal note for SB2254 estimated a loss of $1,037,000 in state general fund revenues for the 2017-19 biennium and $99,000 in what was classified as "other funds," if passed.
The bill's lone sponsor, Sen. Larry Luick, R-Fairmount, said the bill was proposed to him by a constituent. He told his colleagues to vote as they wished.
Sen. Judy Lee, R-West Fargo, said she's also heard requests from several constituents on enacting such an exemption. She shared her answer to such calls to the rest of the chamber moments before the vote.
"My response was that we don't exempt toilet paper, and we wouldn't even be being gender-specific in that," Lee said.