LANSING AREA, Mich. — Back in February, State Representative Padma Kuppa reintroduced the Tampon Tax bill that would remove the 6 percent sales tax on feminine hygiene products.
For years, other lawmakers tried to get it passed, she said in a previous interview. However, on Thursday, she stood behind Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at the Greater Lansing Food Bank as she signed it into law.
“No more tampon tax in Michigan,” the governor said as she held up the document.
The crowd cheered. So did Kuppa.
“It helps all working families because when you don’t have to pay taxes on necessities and you are poor, it helps you to be able to pay for other things as well,” Kuppa said during an interview with FOX 17 after the event on Thursday. “So, I think it’s a really important tax repeal because it doesn’t penalize those who menstruate.”
Kuppa said it was her first bill-signing event. She co-sponsored the bill and spent the last eight months speaking to student groups, encouraging them to advocate for it as well.
She said it was exciting to see “how advocacy can turn into law.” The governor signed the bill as part of a bipartisan package of bills.
“This day has been a long day coming, and I’m proud that we are able to get this done together,” Governor Whitmer said at the event. “By repealing the tax on menstrual products, we are saving families from paying taxes on up to $4,800 of spending over the course of a lifetime.”
Sonyita Clemons spoke at the event as well. She teaches classes at a local shelter, helping women get back on their feet. She said the conversation on access to feminine hygiene products was taboo but the need was still great.
“For families struggling on the ground every day... you know, I’ve worked with families who have gone to the grocery store and if you have to choose whether or not to put back a gallon of milk, 50 cents starts to be a different conversation,” said Clemons, executive director of Total Life Prosperity CDC. “Our average families have between three and six children. So, if you have six young ladies that are having this particular time of the month and they need these products and you start to add that up, it changes the conversation a lot.”
Governor Whitmer mentioned at the event that by repealing the tax the state may take a $7,000,000 hit financially. However, Kuppa said the money will come back in other ways.
“I think that the $7.7 million that we’re expecting to see lost in tax revenue will somehow come back because those who menstruate are going to buy other things that they need,” she said. “I mean we’re talking about necessities here. And so taxing necessities doesn’t make sense.”
Now that the bill has been signed, Kuppa said she’s working on legislation to make feminine hygiene products free and accessible in schools.
“I know that when I worked in automotive, our bathrooms had products available,” Kuppa said. “So, I think it’s really important to make those available also at public education institutions and in public schools.”