Republican gubernatorial candidate Derek Schmidt recommended the Legislature adopt an exemption from the state’s 6.5% sales tax for purchases of diapers and feminine hygiene products. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)
TOPEKA — Republican gubernatorial candidate Derek Schmidt urged legislators Tuesday to adopt a state sales tax exemption for purchase of diapers and feminine hygiene products.
Schmidt, the state attorney general challenging Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly on the November ballot, said he was motivated by high rates of inflation on consumer products. The U.S. inflation rate of 8.5% in July was a slight improvement from June’s 9.1%, which was a 40-year high.
“Other governors in our region, both Democrat and Republican, have stepped up and made this a priority to provide relief to young women, mothers and families,” Schmidt said. “Kansas ought to be making their daily life more affordable, too. That’s what our plan will do.”
Kelly said Schmidt’s proposal is part of a trend in which he repackages things she has proposed.
“I’ve already had that idea, so I think it’s a great idea,” Kelly said.
In the Legislature, several House Democrats have introduced bills that would accomplish comparable reforms.
“I am glad to see Derek Schmidt got behind the House Democrats’ plan to eliminate the sales tax on hygiene products,” said House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer, D-Wichita. “Considering it was Republican leadership who killed the bill in committee only a few months ago, I hope his support of this policy encourages our colleagues to rethink their strategy in the upcoming session and pass a clean bill without political obstruction.”
Sawyer said Schmidt timed his support for the bill based on “partisan calculations, not benefit to Kansans.”
The House and Senate did vote in 2022 to phase out over three years the state’s 6.5% sales tax on groceries. Kelly signed the bill into law. She had sought immediate removal of the tax on food purchases, but was rebuffed by the GOP-led Legislature.
Schmidt said the recommended sales tax exemption on diapers as well as tampons, pantyliners, menstrual cups and sanitary napkins would correspond to the state’s existing sales tax exemption for essential health items. Kansas law currently exempts prescription drugs, insulin, prosthetic devices as well as crutches, eyeglasses and wheelchairs.
Kansas is among 28 states that tax diapers and feminine hygiene goods at the maximum 6.5% rate. The other 22 states exempt one or both categories of products from sales tax.
Colorado and Iowa adopted the type of exemption sought by Schmidt, while Nebraska is preparing to end its sales tax on feminine hygiene products. Missouri prohibits collection of state sales tax on diapers during its back-to-school tax holiday.
Katie Sawyer, Schmidt’s lieutenant governor running mate and a former staff member with U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, said the campaign’s proposal on sales tax reform was “pro-women, pro-mothers and pro-family.”
In a statement, Schmidt blamed President Joe Biden for the nation’s elevated inflation rate. He also said Kelly’s “liberal spending,” which must be approved by the Legislature, was misguided.
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