Republican Sen. Joey Hensley of Hohenwald, Tenn., expressed concern that including the items in the taxless weekend leaves unanswered questions about how the loss of tax on the items will be funded.
“There’s really no limit on the number of items somebody can purchase,” he said, questioning if the weekend could prompt people to buy “a supply” of goods. “I don’t know how you would limit the number of items someone could purchase.”
Other goods, such as clothing items and electronics with sticker prices varying from $100 to $1,500, are allowed to be purchased without tax on the long July weekend, Associated Press reported.
Lawmakers such as Democratic Sen. Sara Kyle of Memphis argued that goods such as pads, tampons, panty liners and other feminine hygiene products should be added to the list of approved items promoted in the annual sales tax holiday that promotes back-to-school items.
“I would hope they would buy as much as they can, but in the first place they don’t have these types of funds or they wouldn’t be asking for this type of effort,” Kyle said, addressing Hensley’s concerns about mass purchases of feminine-care products. “These people just don’t have funds, and I’m trying to remove this barrier.”
Hensley wanted to know if the state had the money to pick up the tab for people who can’t cover the items, he late said in the comments section of his Facebook page after facing criticism.
“I am not against adding feminine hygiene products to the tax free weekend holiday. I understand the importance of these products for women,” he wrote. “My concern in Revenue Sub Committee was the cost. Every bill has to receive funding to be implemented and it is up to the sponsor to find those funds.”
“His questions were directed toward that cost and the plans to fund this legislation,” Alison Wilson, legislative assistant for Hensley, told The Washington Post in a statement. “He was concerned that the possibility of people purchasing large quantities had not been factored in when determining the cost of the legislation.”
The proposal could cost the state $132,700 each year if the 7 percent sales tax on the menstrual products are removed, AP reported.
Democratic Sen. Brenda Gilmore of Nashville argued the feminine products could be a great benefit to students who might have families that struggle to pay for the items.
“We have young girls in this state who are actually missing school because they cannot afford feminine products,” she said at Tuesday’s revenue subcommittee meeting.
She suggested $150,000 of the state’s $732 million Temporary Assistance for Needy Family funds could be used to pay for the break.
The AP reported that the Republican-led panel was ready to give a negative recommendation but paused to give Kyle, the bill’s sponsor, more time to address funding questions.