Lawmakers challenge tax on menstruation products in Kentucky

Pads, tampons, and other menstrual products are a necessity for most women. However, in Kentucky, those items are taxed like a luxury product.

“I think it’s a fundamental injustice,” said Rep. Lisa Willner, a Democrat from Louisville. 

“I mean this is a tax that affects roughly half, slightly over half, of the population and doesn’t affect the other half. So, it is frustrating that we are one of the states who continues it,” she said. 

Willner has filed a bill to stop taxing menstrual products. She explains that Kentucky is currently in the minority of states that still tax these items.

Her bill also aims to tackle what has been called period poverty. The Alliance for Period Supplies says that in Kentucky, 1 in 5 women and girls between ages 12 and 44 live below the federal poverty line. 

The group also estimates 1 in 4 teens in the U.S. has missed class because they didn’t have period supplies.

“No child should miss school because of their period. And no child should feel shame because of their period. And no teacher and staff member should have to dig into their own pockets to make sure that students have what they need,” said Skylar Davis, the founder of Period Y’all. 

“That’s the reality here in Kentucky,” she said. 

Willner’s bill mandates that at least half of all public middle and high school bathrooms have free pads and tampons available for students. It appropriates $2 million to fund the products.

Willner is uncertain whether her bill has a shot at passage in the GOP-controlled General Assembly, but she hopes it at least gets the conversation started.

Rep. Kim Banta, a Republican from Fort Mitchell, also filed a bill to remove the sales tax on menstrual products. That bill, however, does not require taxpayer-funded products to be placed in public schools.

This story was originally published by Karolina Buczek at Scripps News Lexington