- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 15, 2017

PHOENIX (AP) - An Arizona House panel on Wednesday advanced a proposal exempting diapers, baby formula and feminine hygiene products like tampons from state sales taxes, an effort that is gaining steam across the nation

Democratic Rep. Daniel Hernandez, of Tucson, is pushing the proposal. He told members of the House Ways and Means Committee that the measure is a way to give a tax break to poor and low income families.

The tax cut is expected to lead to nearly $8 million in lower sales tax collections.

Advocates for low-income women testified that any cost reduction for basic child care and feminine hygiene needs will help struggling families.

“I believe that these are basic needs for infants, toddlers and for women and should rightly be tax-exempt as they are critical for women and for babies,” said Ginger Clayton, founder of the Diaper Bank of Central Arizona.

Committee members approved House Bill 2418 on a 6-3 vote, with three Republicans joining all three Democrats on the panel in support.

Three Republicans voiced concern about the cost and voted no on the measure, with one implying it wasn’t the state’s job to help poor families.

“My concern with this bill is somewhere along the line, life is life,” said Republican Rep. Vince Leach, of Tucson. “And there are responsibilities along the line when you decide to have children.”

Leach had just voted to give a $20 million tax break to big manufacturers like Intel.

There has been a national push in the past year to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales taxes, with proponents arguing the tax singled out women because condoms and bandages aren’t taxed but tampons are. Arizona proponents combined the tampon tax repeal with one targeting diapers and baby formula.

Arizona is one of 37 states that tax menstrual products. New York, Illinois and Connecticut passed laws last year making feminine hygiene products tax-exempt, while Utah and North Dakota lawmakers voted down similar measures.

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