PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — For the fourth year in a row, Rhode Island lawmakers are debating an exemption on menstrual products from the state’s sales tax.
State Senator Louis DiPalma and Representative Edith Ajello introduced sister bills in the House and Senate earlier this month.
But like many things, it all comes down to money and how much the state would stand to lose.
Christina Morra has embraced the conversation each time it’s been taken up at the State House, testifying before the House and Senate Finance committees in support of the legislation.
“It is a little frustrating to come back year after year, to talk to the same people in the same room, again, you know and remind them why it’s important, and hear them go yeah we agree. It’s a little bit like ground hog’s day it’s the same thing over and over,” Christina Morra said.
Rhode Island has a 7-percent sales tax, but items deemed necessities, such as groceries, clothing and prescription drugs, are exempt. However, feminine hygiene products, such as tampons and sanitary pads, are not.
“It’s one of those things where it’s not a luxury item, it’s a necessity,” Sen. Louis DiPalma said.
Senator Louis DiPalma says he has yet to meet a fellow legislator who is against the proposal but adds, “It’s a budget issue. It’s about a $650,000 hit to the general revenues.”
Morra estimates the average Rhode Island woman spends up to 18-thousand dollars in her lifetime on items and costs associated with menstruation.
“It’s a thing we have to buy that men don’t have to buy and on top of that we’re taxed for it. It’s just about figuring out how to fit it into the overall budget and making it happen. The time is now to make it happen,” Morra said.
Senator DiPalma says a hearing will be scheduled in the coming months and that he’s cautiously optimistic revenue outlooks for the new fiscal year will allow the bills to move forward to passage.
Morra is collecting letters of support to bring with her to the State House when she testifies again this year. To send her a message, email TamponTaxRI@gmail.com.