A bill to exempt tampons from the state sales tax was shot down in the North Dakota State Senate today.
Republican Sen. Scott Meyer, speaking on behalf of the Senate Finance Committee, began his remarks with, “This is a pretty short bill, so I’m just going to wing it.”
“We did not feel it was the right time asking for this exemption and also the language in this was a bit ambiguous,” he said.
In fact, the one-sentence bill is not ambiguous at all. It simply adds “tampons and sanitary napkins” to the long list of items that are exempt from sales tax. In North Dakota, the following items are exempt (among others):
- livestock and poultry feed
- prescription drugs (including important ones like birth control and less important ones like Viagra)
Why are tampons taxed but Viagra isn’t? We’ll let you think on it. Seven states have exempted tampons and related products from taxation, including Minnesota (which did it in 1981.)
The author of the North Dakota bill, Sen. Larry Luick (R-Fairmount), didn’t even try to persuade people to vote for it. He said he introduced it at the request of someone who lives in his district, then told other legislators to “Vote as you wish.” He then voted against his own bill.
Sen. Judy Lee (R-West Fargo), said people in her district have expressed support for ending taxation on tampons. “My response was that we don’t exempt toilet paper and we wouldn’t even be being gender specific in that so I do urge a do-not-pass vote,” she said.
The bill failed 43 to 3. The only votes in support came from three Democrats: Tim Mathern and Carolyn Nelson, both of Fargo, and Erin Oban of Bismarck.
The financial impact of the bill was estimated as a $1.1 million loss in sales tax revenue over the next two years.