Editorial Roundup: Kentucky

Frankort State Journal. January 31, 2023.

Editorial: Time to make feminine hygiene products tax-exempt

Regardless of whether or not discussing menstruation — a normal and natural biological function — makes you comfortable, it is high time we talk about providing free feminine hygiene products for female students in grades 4 through 12 at each public school and exempting such products from sales tax.

Former House Rep. Attica Scott, D-Louisville, had the right idea when she filed legislation four separate times that would prohibit the state from taxing “tampons, panty liners, menstrual cups, sanitary napkins and other similar tangible personal property designed for feminine hygiene in connection with the human menstrual cycle.” The latest, House Bill 27, was pre-filed in June 2021 and introduced in the House, as well as sent to the Committee on Committees in January 2022, where nothing became of it.

Consider this: The average age when an American female begins menstruating is 12 and the median age when menopause starts is 51. That means for 39 years each woman pays on average $20 per month for feminine hygiene products, which equates to approximately $240 per year and $9,360 over a lifetime. The Kentucky sales tax on that figure is an additional $561.60 over the 39-year period (no pun intended).

Currently only 22 states — Kentucky is one of them — tax feminine hygiene products, which should be considered basic necessities like toilet paper, at the same rate as luxury items, such as décor, electronics, makeup and toys. Five states — Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon — do not have sales tax and 23 states exempt so-called “period products” from taxation.

Adding to the burden is the fact that Kentucky women are not able to use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance programs (SNAP) or SNAP for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to purchase feminine hygiene products.

Period poverty is real and defined as being unable to afford menstrual products. In fact, according to 2021 statistics from the Journal of Global Health Reports, 16.9 million menstruating women in the U.S. are living in poverty, two-thirds could not afford feminine hygiene products in the last year and half were forced to choose between buying food or menstrual products.

Which is why we also agree with Senate Bill 277 from last year’s session, which would provide female public school students with feminine hygiene products at no cost.

We urge Kentucky lawmakers to pass legislation that would end taxation on feminine hygiene products, as well as supply these products free of charge at our public schools.