Video: Lawmakers Have an Uncomfortable Debate About Exempting Tampons From the Sales Tax


Today the state Senate took up SB2254, which is a pretty simple bill. It’s basically one sentence exempting “tampons and sanitary napkins” from the state’s sales tax.

It was defeated by a wide margin, with just three of the state Senate’s most far-left members giving a green vote: Senator Erin Oban of Bismarck, Senator Tim Mathern of Fargo, and Senator Carolyn Nelson also of Fargo.

The legislation had no sponsors outside of Senator Larry Luick, a Republican from Fairmount. Why did it fail? I think Senator Judy Lee, a Republican from Fargo, put it nicely.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]”We don’t exempt toilet paper,” she said during the floor debate.[/mks_pullquote]

“We don’t exempt toilet paper,” she said during the floor debate.

Quite right.

Exempting tampons, etc., from the sales tax is something talked a lot about in feminist circles. Which seems anti-feminist to me. Why should women get special treatment under the tax code? Because they’re women?

How about we treat everyone equally?

I thought the short debate was worth highlighting if only because of how visibly uncomfortable Luick and bill carrier Senator Scott Meyer (R-Grand Forks) are in discussing it.

Meyer can’t bring himself to say “tampons” on the floor of the Senate.

Luick nervously justified his introduction of the bill saying it came from a constituent and he felt a duty to “represent the people who come to you with concerns.”

“Vote as you will,” he told his fellow Senators.

On a related note, if you were ever curious how much North Dakota takes in revenues from taxing tampons and sanitary napkins, the fiscal note on this bill indicated that, had it passed, the state would have lost $1,036,000 in revenue in the coming biennium.

Here’s the video:

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