A House committee will get its turn Monday on a bill that would exempt diapers and feminine hygiene products from state sales tax.
“These are items that are absolutely essential to the women and children of our state and their ability to exist in society,” said Senator JP Morrell (D-New Orleans), the bill's author.
Senator Morrell got the bill through the Senate earlier this month, but only after making a significant change. He originally wanted the tax exemption to be put in the constitution, which would make the tax break permanent.
“I think it’s an essential item and as a state we’ve determined that when an item is essential to your life, liberty and happiness, the constitution is the appropriate place to put it,” Morrell explained to the Senate chamber.
But Senators balked at the nearly $10 million the state would lose each year as a result of the tax break.
Senator Sharon Hewitt says while the state would take a big hit, the savings to women and families wouldn’t be substantial, saying the tax break wouldn't be "a game changer” for people in Louisiana.
The Senate rejected Morrell’s initial proposal to let voters decide the issue. As a compromise, Morrell brought the tax exemption back, but this time outside of the constitution, meaning the sales tax break could be removed with legislative approval.
The Senate overwhelmingly supported that plan.
Several sales tax exemptions are making their way through the Legislature, including one that would gradually remove the .45 percent sales tax extension that was the compromise to last year’s fiscal cliff, a move that would strike hundreds of millions of dollars in state revenue over time.
Governor John Bel Edwards has said he’s remaining flexible on less expensive tax breaks, but bigger ticket proposals are a no-go.
“There won’t be any high dollar items in terms of any new tax expenditures I’ll be approving,” Governor Edwards said at a press conference earlier this month.