Lawmaker wants tax exemptions for diapers, feminine products

One local lawmaker wants diapers and feminine hygiene products sold in Louisiana to be non-taxable, but not everyone is supporting the bill that would benefit families and women. 

If passed into law, it is estimated consumers could skip out on paying as much as $13 million a year.

Orleans Parish Sen. J.P. Morrell introduced SB 27 and said his major effort is for equality. 

"If you are a parent with a small child, diapers are not optional. If you are a woman, feminine hygiene products are not optional. So just like we don't tax men for their Viagra, which is a prescription drug but one could argue is not necessarily essential, we should not be charging people for things they can't live without," Morrell said. 

If passed, children's diapers size seven or smaller would be exempt from being taxed. Adult diapers would remain taxable. 

The exemptions for feminine hygiene products include tampons, menstrual pads, sanitary napkins, panty liners, menstrual sponges and menstrual cups. 

"I think it's a good idea because it's a product that is serviceable and everybody uses," consumer Eleanor Capretto said. 

"I have a 5-month-old. She goes through a ton of diapers. We are talking about at least two boxes of diapers a weeks so it's a lot, and we're looking for that savings," consumer Carmen Jones said. 

Shoppers would save about 40 cents for every $10 spent on these products.

These savings are too small for some consumers and other lawmakers to agree with as the state deals with its ongoing budget deficit. 

"If the money is spent correctly and we can trust our senators, representatives and governor, we will get the things we want, but I think something as small as that is really not necessary," shopper Joan Ingram said. "Nothing about mothers, I paid for diapers and had kids and grand-kids."

"It sounds really good on one hand, but again we are shrinking the tax base with some of these exemptions," Baton Rouge Rep. Barry Ivey said. "I'm sure cases could be made for a host of other exemptions and how they would benefit the people who would not have to pay those taxes, but I just question the timing."

The bill is currently being debated in the Senate Finance Committee.

If passed by legislators, the change would have to go to a vote of the people because it is a constitutional amendment. 

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