Politics

California lawmakers try new approach to end taxes on tampons, diapers

A woman restocks tampons at Compton's Market in Sacramento in this June 2016 photo. California Gov. Jerry Brown on Sept. 13, 2016, rejected an attempt to waive taxes on tampons and other feminine hygiene products along with other proposed tax breaks, saying lawmakers should propose such ideas as part of the annual state budget process rather than as one-off exceptions.
A woman restocks tampons at Compton's Market in Sacramento in this June 2016 photo. California Gov. Jerry Brown on Sept. 13, 2016, rejected an attempt to waive taxes on tampons and other feminine hygiene products along with other proposed tax breaks, saying lawmakers should propose such ideas as part of the annual state budget process rather than as one-off exceptions.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Democratic California lawmakers on Thursday announced revised proposals to exempt feminine hygiene products and diapers from sales taxes after the governor vetoed the move last year.

Assemblywomen Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher of San Diego and Cristina Garcia of Bell Gardens announced a bill that would fund their proposed sales tax exemptions with increased taxes on hard liquor.

They proposed the exemptions last year without a way to replace the revenue that would be lost from the change. Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the measures along with several other tax break bills.

"Tax breaks are the same as new spending," he wrote in his veto message. "As such, they must be considered during budget deliberations so that all spending proposals are weighted against each other at the same time."

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, right, urges lawmakers to approve her measure to exempt tampons and other feminine hygiene products from sales tax as co-author Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar, looks on, in this June 22, 2016, photo in Sacramento. The bill, AB1561, was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, right, urges lawmakers to approve her measure to exempt tampons and other feminine hygiene products from sales tax as co-author Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar, looks on, in this June 22, 2016, photo in Sacramento. The bill, AB1561, was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP

California law exempts some necessities including food and prescription medicines from sales taxes. The assemblywomen say tampons, pads and diapers are also necessities that should not be taxed. Exempting diapers from sales taxes could save a young family as much as $100 annually, they said.

"Liquor is a choice and a luxury and female biology is not," Garcia said during a news conference at the Capitol. "It's time we tax liquor before ladies, booze before babies."

Their bill, AB479, would increase taxes on hard liquor under 100 proof by $1.20 per gallon — which they say amounts to less than 2 cents per drink — and on liquor over 100 proof by $2.40 per gallon. The bill would levy the taxes on distributors and would not increase taxes on beer and wine.

To pass, the bill requires a two-thirds vote in the Legislature because it would increase taxes.