Tell legislators how you feel about the disregard for women’s issues (HB 71)

On Wednesday we asked you to call on members of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee to approve HB71: Hygiene Tax Amendments (Rep. Duckworth), which eliminates sales tax on hygiene products such as tampons, pads and diapers by considering these items akin to a currently un-taxed class of “disposable medical supplies”. Today we ask for your help on this issue again. Why? Because on Wednesday afternoon the committee failed to even give this bill enough consideration to vote on it.
HB 71 argues that hygiene supplies for having a period or an infant are not luxury items, but rather are necessary for health. Low income women and parents in particular benefit from better access to these products, as do the medical and resources centers that serve them.
Last year, a similar bill came before the House committee, and the vote was split entirely along partisan lines, with two Democrats in favor and a room full of men voting it down. The vote was so egregious that The Daily Show came calling to cover it. This year, after discussion began on HB 71, a motion was called to adjourn the meeting to stop conversation and potentially kill the bill outright without a vote ever being held. The motion to adjourn passed, with only Rep. Eliason and Rep. Briscoe voting against the attempt to prematurely shut down HB 71.
11 states have eliminated sales tax on feminine hygiene products, and in the past year even more have attempted it. Most states don’t tax prescription drugs or medical supplies because they are necessary items for public health. So too are tampons, pads and diapers, and taxing these items creates an unfair tax on women. For low-income women and parents, taxes make these products even more cost-prohibitive ,and these women can turn to using alternative materials, such as rolled up socks, rags and plastic bags that cause toxic shock syndrome, diaper rash and other health problems.

CALL TO ACTION

  • Email or text the members of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee to let them know what you think about their refusal to consider HB 71. It’s okay to be firm, but also BE POLITE. Be sure to mention if you are a constituent!
  • Include a statement to Rep. Lisonbee, who filed the motion to adjourn on Wednesday, then later stated that she did not support HB 71 because it excludes more eco-friendly re-usable hygiene products. A few problems with this argument: 1) as Lisonbee well knows, the Utah Tax Commission will not support removal of taxes from one-time purchases like re-usable supplies, 2) re-usable supplies are cost prohibitive for low-income women and families to purchase, clean and reuse and 3) although elimination of sales taxes does improve public health outcomes it does not increase the environmental impact of hygiene supplies — not that environmentalism is Lisonbee’s true concern anyway, as her voting record shows.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local paper! Does this issue get you riled up? Then help it gain press attention! A letter to the editor is very short — only about 200 words. Here are some TIPS from our Resources page on how to write an effective LTE.

Emailing the members of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee

Email subject: Held Vote for HB71: Hygiene Tax Amendments
You can say something like this:
I am a constituent from (ZIP or DISTRICT) disappointed in the tactic on Wednesday to hold the vote on HB71: Hygiene Tax Amendments. Adjourning the House Revenue and Tax Committee meeting without voting on HB 71 sends a clear message that legislation to help Utah women, particular those with low incomes, is not important enough to merit your consideration. I want to thank Rep. Eliason and Rep. Briscoe for voting against the motion to adjourn and ask the committee to more seriously consider constituent feedback and positive legislation for women.
In regards to concern about the environmental impact of disposable hygiene products, please note that removal of sales tax on these items does not incentivize more waste but rather the use of safer (and more environmentally friendly) hygiene products than the alternatives that low-income women otherwise use, and in turn prevents health problems for women and babies like toxic shock syndrome and diaper rash. Furthermore, re-usable hygiene products are cost prohibitive for low-income women and parents to purchase, clean or reuse. Any insistence of inclusion of re-usable hygiene products in this bill will be seen for what it is: a tactic to remove Utah Tax Commission support for HB 71. Should HB 71 come up again for discussion, please vote YES to help women and parents afford necessary hygiene supplies and prevent health problems for women and babies from lack of affordable products.

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