SACRAMENTO -– Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) kicked off her first day of the 2016 legislative session Monday by introducing AB 9 and AB 10, two measures that would not only remove the tax on menstrual products, but make them free in schools and shelters.
Currently, due to Gov. Jerry Brown's veto of similar legislation last year, women in California still pay over $20 million annually in taxes on tampons and sanitary napkins, paying on average $7 a month for 40 years.
Garcia feels that feminine hygiene products are a basic necessity and should be free instead of taxed.
“Every month, for 40 years of our lives, we are still being taxed for being born women," said Garcia. "Every month of our adult life we are taxed for our biology. Every month we are told our periods are a luxury, while also being told they are something to be ashamed and we must hide."
"It's not enough to make these products more affordable, we have to make them free to the women and girls who struggle to get access to these products," she added.
Last year New York, Connecticut and Illinois passed legislation to make menstrual products exempt from the sales tax, bringing the total number of states exempting the products to eight. Meanwhile, in California the tax remains and there is now a case before in California Superior Court, on the basis that tampons and sanitary napkins are not luxuries, but basic medical necessities.
The compliant states that the current tax violates the 14th amendment's equal protection clause.
“We shouldn't have to wait for a court case to strike down this unlawful tax. I am committed to working with the Governor to end this unfair tax on women whether it's through legislation or the budget and also to find ways to make these products free where they are needed ” Garcia said.
Currently, California law exempts health items like walkers, medical identification tags, and prescription medication, including Viagra. Tampons and sanitary napkins are not exempt.
“If you look at other items that are tax exempt, I think it is only fair that these essential products for women be included,” she said. “When I carried this legislation last year, I kept hearing stories of girls missing school because they didn't have access to these products. In New York City when they provided the products for free, they saw a 2.4% increase in attendance in their pilot school. I knew that as state we couldn't just stop at getting rid of the tax. We have to make the products free in schools in and shelters. This is about gender equity and social justice.”