HB 300 proposes Texas sales tax breaks for baby, menstrual products
AUSTIN, Texas - At Texas grocery stores, basic food products and several medications are not taxed.
The sales tax exemptions would be expanded to include baby and menstrual products by a bill filed Thursday by state Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin).
"You wouldn't necessarily notice that the feminine hygiene products and the diapers are not tax-exempt and that you're actually paying a set of taxes on those things. So, you know, really part of this also has to do with recognizing what are necessities," said Rep. Howard.
HB 300 amends Section 151 of the state tax code which currently includes baby food and formula under the grocery tax exemptions. The new proposed additions include baby products like diapers, wipes, breast pumps and baby bottles and menstrual hygiene products such as tampons, sanitary napkins and pads.
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People who spoke to FOX 7 Austin support the expansion.
"You can’t go without it, babies cannot have diapers, and women definitely need feminine hygiene products," said Hope Biba.
"If men needed feminine hygiene products, I'd bet it would pass really quickly," said Beth Ferguson.
"Just giving a break where we can, especially when inflation has caused everything to be so much more expensive, the things we can to without, are great to be exempt," said Keri Burns.
Maternity clothing was a late addition to Howard’s bill, which came as a surprise.
"That was something that really came out from the Speaker, and I applaud him for considering that, because clearly the body changes require a different set of clothing. That's the way it works," Howard said. "And you have to have something to wear to go to work, to go to school, whatever your position is. And quite frankly, the sales tax on those products are probably going to add up a lot more."
HB 300 is part of a four-item priority list announced by House Speaker Dade Phelan, all of which are considered family friendly proposals.
"It does add up. And when you are living on the edge, in particular, those pennies can add up over the year to, you know, I don't know, at least $100, $100 may not sound like to some people, but it's a lot to people who are living paycheck to paycheck," said Rep. Howard.
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Political analyst Brian Smith, from St. Edwards University, described the plan as a no-brainer.
"Texas doesn't balance its budget on the backs of diapers. We're an oil and gas state, we're a real consumption state. So this is a no-brainer in the sense that this is an issue that will affect everybody of both parties, and it's something that hits families hardest. So you're going to get broad bipartisan support on this," said Smith.
Smith expects the Speaker's list of priorities will grow and those additions will not be so friendly to Democrats.
"This is certainly setting up for tougher issues and building consensus now, because he knows down the road, you're going to need the support of your entire caucus and you may need support from Democrats as well. So the more consensus you can build early, the better off you're going to be when there's going to be more difficult issues that the speaker says the state's going to need to address," said Smith.
The things Smith says could prove bumpy are how to split up the budget surplus and provide more school funding. The Speaker's strategy, according to Smith, could even factor into the coming debates over the hardcore social issues that Republicans are hoping to pass.