After the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade last year, Alabama Republicans said their focus would shift toward helping create a better environment for women to raise children.
Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, is proposing a bill that would ease the tax burden on mothers including eliminating taxes on baby bottles, diapers, breast pumps, maternity clothing and baby wipes, as well as menstrual hygiene products.
“Thinking about the issue, it makes no sense that the state or cities and counties should be taxing a necessity like this that’s visited on one gender,” Orr told Alabama Daily News.
This is not the first time a bill to cut taxes on feminine hygiene products has been on the docket. Rep. Neil Rafferty, D-Birmingham, carried a bill last session to eliminate sales and use tax on such products as well as diapers. Rep. Rolanda Hollis, D-Birmingham, and Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison, D-Birmingham, successfully shepherded through legislation in the 2023 session establishing a $200,000 grant program for schools to provide feminine hygiene products at no cost to students.
Cutting the tax revenue would cost the state about $10 million, while it could cost cities and counties more than $13 million altogether.
If passed in its drafted form, the items would become exempt from sales and use tax in October 2024, but Orr told Alabama Daily News that could change to phase in the exemption.
“It’s important to put these tax policy decisions before the Legislature, however, given our declining revenues year-over-year, we may have to phase in some of these reductions to reach a total exemption,” Orr said. “We’ll just have to see what we can absorb.”
Orr chairs the powerful Senate education budget committee in charge of ensuring that the Education Trust Fund remains healthy while lawmakers look for ways to ease tax burdens on citizens.
With the Legislature voting in the 2023 session to significantly reduce grocery taxes, the ETF is expected to already be shedding about $300 million in revenue, as legislators have not yet made a significant move to offset the lost revenue.
The session begins Feb. 7.