AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Two Plano teenagers testified at the Texas Capitol Wednesday morning to urge lawmakers to pass a bill to end the state sales tax on feminine hygiene products.
In an interview, 13-year-old Samantha Haggerty said, “It’s an issue that affects all women across the State of Texas.”
Haggerty and her friend, 14-year-old Ruhika Patra found out about a hearing for HB 311 before the House Ways and Means Committee and decided to make their voices heard.
Their parents drove them to Austin.
During the hearing, Haggerty told lawmakers, the products “are not luxury items, they should not be taxed as luxury items.”
Patra told the committee, “I feel very strongly about this bill, so I urge you to pass it on behalf of all women in the State of Texas.”
The classmates at Rice Middle School in Plano are doing this as part of the Girl Scouts Silver Award project.
Haggerty said she first heard about this issue two years ago when she signed a petition to end the sales tax on feminine hygiene products in California.
After it passed, she wanted to help the author of the Texas bill, Representative Susan Howard, D-Austin. “The goal of the silver award is to make a lasting impact on our community and I was inspired by signing the petition in California.”
Haggerty said tampons, sanitary napkins and other products are medically necessary and that the tax hits poor women. “Removing the tax will give women who don’t have money to afford a lot of these feminine hygiene products, it makes them a little more affordable for them.”
Patra said, “I told them it’s not easy to afford these products and since it’s a reoccurring expense, it just keeps adding up every month.”
A State House analysis found that if the bill passes and takes effect September 1 of this year, it would cost the state nearly $37.5 million in sales tax revenues through the end of August of 2021.
That dollar figure didn’t go unnoticed.
During the hearing, Representative Jim Murphy, R-Houston told Rep. Howard, “I know you and some other members say gee, that fiscal note looks really high and it maybe, we’ll have to talk to them. I don’t think it’s too high that it would be an insurmountable barrier.”
Howard replied, “This session of course we do have a little more wiggle room with which to work.”
Murphy agreed, “It’s very different.”
Other lawmakers have expressed their support.
But with less than a month before the legislative session ends, the bill remains pending in committee. A similar bill in the Texas Senate has not yet had a hearing.
Patra said, “I have great hope it will pass someday in the future and like Sam said, I am definitely optimistic.”
She and Haggerty said if the bill doesn’t pass this session, they will try again two years from now.