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Donna Howard Says Feminine Hygiene Products Should Be Exempt From Sales Tax

State Rep. Donna Howard speaks in the Texas House chamber.
Martin do Nascimento/KUT
State Rep. Donna Howard speaks in the Texas House chamber.

From Texas Standard:

As the 2019 legislative session continues, Texas Standard is talking with members about some of the bills they’ve filed, and what they hope their legislation will accomplish.

State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, filed HB 311, which would exempt feminine hygiene products from state sales tax.

On why the bill is needed:

"There's been more of a national movement ... in recent years to look at states exempting feminine hygiene products from sales tax. Some have already put that in place, with the recognition that we typically exempt necessities, especially medical necessities, and that feminine hygiene products – no one would classify those as luxury items."

On the importance of a tax exemption for poor women:

"It's not a huge amount of money for many of us, but when you're on a limited income, and you have your family's food and rent to pay, just to find the extra 10 bucks for a box of tampons can be a drain on the family budget."

On choosing other necessities over feminine hygiene products:

"We know that there are reports of girls in high school choosing to not go to school on the days they have their period because they do not have the supplies."

On pushback against HB 311:

"There's always pushback when you're talking about limiting revenue streams. So, one of the things that we're doing is we're also looking at what can we look at as kind of a tradeoff with the exemptions."

On solving the larger problem of hygiene-product affordability:

"To me, the exemption is a first step. I think long term, we need to look at how do we make supplies like this more available as a whole? I think it's an important thing to say to the women of our state, and to their families, that we recognize this as a necessity and we are not going to charge you a tax on something that you are required to have a regular supply of."

Written by Shelly Brisbin.

Copyright 2020 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Sara Schleede