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Texas House passes proposal that would do away with taxes on tampons and baby products

CVS sales clerk scans a box of Tampax tampons in East Dallas.
Rachel Osier Lindley
A CVS sales clerk scans a box of Tampax tampons in East Dallas.

The Texas House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill that would exempt feminine hygiene products, as well as diapers, from the state’s sales tax code.

The measure is one of House Speaker Dade Phelan’s priorities. It was carried by Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin.

Joined by Republican and Democratic lawmakers, Howard told the House the measure would be of great help to Texans, particularly those in low-income households.

“This bill provides an opportunity to help Texas families at every stage of life,” Howard said.

This is not the first time Howard has attempted to pass a measure like this. However, this is the first time she successfully carried it this far.

The proposal, which also exempts maternity clothing and breast pumps, had 39 co-authors, including 12 Republicans. It also has the support of Gov. Greg Abbott.

Now, the bill needs to clear one last procedural vote in the House before it goes to the Senate for consideration in that chamber.

According to Period Law, a New York-based organization that advocates for the sales tax exemptions of period products, 28 states have done away with taxing these products.

Howard told reporters after Tuesday’s vote that a few factors likely contributed to her bill finally passing the House this year.

One of them is the fact that leadership in the Texas House have claimed they are committed to focusing on women and families, particularly after the state severely restricted abortions and the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Speaker Phelan has said that “it is essential that the Texas House makes meaningful progress this year on better supporting mothers and children in the state.”

But Howard also said having a budget surplus this year helped her cause. The state currently has $32 billion in surplus.

According to thefiscal note on the bill, it’s estimated exempting these products from sales tax would result in a loss of nearly $195 million in revenue through August 2025.

“The fact is that sales taxes are our primary source of state revenue and any time we implement an exemption it means that we are losing some of the revenue that we need to provide state services,” Howard said. “When we have such a significant surplus that argument pales.”

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is the former Texas Capitol reporter for The Texas Newsroom.
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