LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Earlier this week the Arkansas attorney general’s office approved a ballot initiative that would eliminate sales and use tax for some feminine hygiene products and diapers.
The ballot initiative title is “An Act to Exempt Feminine Hygiene Products and Diapers from Sales and Use Tax.”
Although the group sponsoring the ballot, Arkansas Period Poverty Project, has more steps to go before it can be on the November 2024 ballot, a mother from Faulkner County said the initiative could impact her and her family.
“Honestly, having a newborn and having to deal with a new budget of diapers and on top of feminine products, on top of groceries, on top of everything else,” Bailey Powell said. “It’s a lot to accommodate to those things.”
She said she’s hoping the future is bright for a newly approved ballot initiative on some of the items she needs the most.
Arkansas Period Poverty Project leader Shannie Jackson said when the ballot was rejected back in September it was a letdown, but after making changes and adding diapers for adults and children she was surprised but glad it was approved on Tuesday.
“We weren’t sure if adding diapers and those items was going to be beneficial or not because it was asking a lot,” Jackson said.
In September, the attorney general’s office rejected the group’s initial proposal, citing that the ballot title contained ambiguities.
Jackson said once they fixed some of the language and received the approval, she felt like it’s one step closer to eliminating the sales and use tax for feminine and hygiene products and helping many girls and women in the state.
“It might seem small, but I think every penny matters because sometimes people when they are choosing between a grocery item on their period product it may come down to the cents and I think that will make a difference, especially with diapers,” Jackson said.
Jackson said attorney David Couch is also helping with sponsoring the bill and they will start training soon on how to properly go about the next steps which involves collecting over 71,0000 signatures by July of 2024.
“To me it feels big,” Jackson said. “Arkansas may be small but we have to get signatures in every county and that will take people.”
University of Arkansas in Fayetteville researcher and economist Jeff Cooperstein said the ballot initiative could impact many people.
“Sales taxes are what we call regressive taxes, regressive taxes take a greater percentage of the income from lower income folks,” Cooperstein said. “When you remove sales taxes from products that are necessities you are providing a much stronger benefit but the percentage benefit is greater to people with lower incomes.”
If the group is able to get all of the signatures then it will go on the November 2024 Ballot for voters to decide if it will go into effect on January 1st, 2025 or not.