Michigan State Senator working to push 'tampon tax' proposal back to forefront of agenda
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Women may be getting a little break at the cash register when it’s time to buy feminine hygiene products. However, a proposal exempt the items from sales tax have been stuck on the Senate Floor since March.
State Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) is pushing to put public attention back on the bill.
“Feminine hygiene products are not classified as medically necessary in the state. They're actually classified as a luxury optional item,” said Warren. “Ask any woman reproductive age whether she thinks it's a luxury item or something medically necessary—you’re going to get 10 out of 10 women saying it's medically necessary.”
The State Senator said the bill has seen bipartisan support since the very beginning, but thinks it hasn’t been passed in months because of the possibility of the state losing revenue.
“The impact on the states revenue stream of not having this money is pretty insignificant. It's a rounding error in our budget and it's something we could do away with at the state level,” said Warren.
Maureen Best, the Women and Family Director at Kalamazoo Gospel Mission, said the women they serve can’t afford to wait much longer for the bill to reach a resolution. She said their closet of toiletries and basic necessities tends to run low.
“A lot of people when they walk in our doors, they walk in with nothing. So we provide anything as far as hygiene, shampoo, toothpaste, conditioning, pads, diapers,” said Best.
The director explained things they can’t seem to keep on the shelves long enough are feminine hygiene products. She said the women’s chapter of the missionary serves about 165-198 women and children per night, with as many as 98 of them between the ages of 18-45.
“When you have 96 women you can go through a lot of stuff. It looks like –you get a few boxes and it looks like it will last a couple of weeks at times. So we really do go through a lot of the sanitary napkins and tampons,” said Best.
Warren said the proposal is awaiting action on the Senate Floor.
“It's making Michigan an outlier—all of the states around us including Wisconsin, Illinois, Pennsylvania, our neighbors to the north in Canada have already made this move,” said the State Senator.
It’s a move Warren said she wants to bring attention to once again at the Capital, especially for those in need who may not always afford the medical necessity.
“As they struggle to make their budgets work it's an extra six percent every single month that could be very easily taken care of if we would pass this bill,” said Warren.
If passed, Best said she hopes the extra savings will encourage donors to fill the shelves so they can always have the feminine hygiene products stocked.
“We are tax exempt here but when our ladies move out or if they’re buying some of that stuff on their own that definitely helps them in the long run. It might be a few cents here, a few cents there but you save enough then that provides something else that they need,” said Best.
The Kalamazoo Gospel Mission is accepting donations to help provide for the people they serve. Donors can see the mission’s “Wish List” online.