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Bill aims to ditch tax on feminine hygiene products

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OLYMPIA, Wash. -- There's a push to eliminate Washington's 6.5% sales tax for feminine hygiene products.

Senate Bill 5147 states that products like tampons and pads are "a necessity for which there is no alternative for females to maintain proper health and hygiene."

It also adds that the tax is a "regressive tax burden on low income families," and "creates a tax gap between genders."

Shelley Sleeper is the founder of TimeToBox.org, a local nonprofit group that distributes free tampons and pads to area schools.

"We went to Costco and paid $400 to buy tampons and $40 of it was on tax and we could have bought so many more tampons. Every little cent does add up," said Sleeper.

According to this year's fiscal note, those cents add up to about $4 million dollars of revenue loss for the state per year, or about $8 million over the state's two year budget cycle. It's one of the main hurdles this bill is facing.

State lawmakers did pass an unfunded mandate that would require schools to provide free tampons and pads for the 2021-2022 school year.

Currently 17 states in the U.S. have eliminated tax on feminine products.

"I feel like 2020 is the year of the woman and this is the year it's going to happen," said Sleeper.

It will be up to the chair, state Sen. Christine Rolfes, to move the bill forward. The deadline for bills to get out of ways and means is February 11.

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