MOORLACH UPDATE — Tampon Tax — June 23, 2016

The purpose of having a bill go before various committees is to have appropriate debate based on the benefit of having multiple eyes reviewing the proposed legislation.

The joy of being up in Sacramento is that I’ve had twenty years of local government experience. Cities and counties have to bear the brunt of bills passed in the legislature and signed by the Governor.

The author and co-authors of AB 1561 have a righteous bill, but it does not come at a cost entirely borne by Sacramento. It is easy for those under the Dome to give away someone else’s money. And, it is frustrating to make piecemeal adjustments without looking carefully at the whole. (Get ready for a larger discussion of California’s revenue generating structure next year.)

With that said, I engaged in the debate and argued the position of two organizations that were opposing the bill, the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties (CSAC). Please note that I served on the CSAC Board and, during the last few years of my service as a County Supervisor, served on its Executive Committee. So, it would only be natural that I would defend their concerns.

The Whittier Daily News catches my overall concerns in the first piece below. The Los Angeles Daily News provides the Associated Press piece on the discussion in the second piece below. ABC Channel 10 covers it in the third piece below.

As someone who served at the local level, Sacramento considers bills that takes local revenues away. Believe me, local municipalities are having enough trouble making ends meet (dare I mention pension plans?).

Another recent righteous bill waives tolls to drivers who are veterans. That’s all well and good, but the toll roads need the revenues to pay their bondholders in accordance to the bond indenture.

Consequently, I proposed that the sales taxes paid for tampons during the year, that are supported by receipts, be a tax credit on the State’s Form 540 Income Tax Return. That way the state alone provides the rebate. Otherwise, Sacramento has to figure out a way to reimburse the tax revenue loss to those innocent bystanders of these types of bills. I have no trouble reducing taxes, that’s easy. But, let’s not do it at the expense of someone else without providing a satisfactory remedy.

Local community things to know and do for the Whittier area for June 23, 2016

SACRAMENTO

Committee approves bill to eliminate tampon tax

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia’s bill to exempt feminine hygiene, i.e. tampon products, from sales tax was approved Wednesday on a 5-0 vote by the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance. It next goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Officials from the California State Association of Counties asked that the exemption not apply to sales tax for cities and counties but the idea was rejected.

“It’s so easy to give away somebody else’s money,” said state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, who abstained on the bill. “That’s what we’re doing. We have cities and counties relying on these taxes.”

State Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, said he’s a former 12-years county supervisory but the sales tax is regressive and applies only to women.

“That’s exactly the area we should exempt taxes.” Beall said.

California lawmakers advance bill to end tampon tax

By Darcy Costello, The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO >> California lawmakers on Wednesday joined a growing number of legislators in other states showing support for repealing so-called “tampon taxes” on feminine hygiene products.

A California Senate committee approved AB 1561 with a 5-0 vote, sending it to the appropriations committee for further consideration.

Supporters of the bill say tampons and sanitary pads are necessities for women and should not be subject to state taxation.

Five other states have already enacted laws ending such taxes. Two other state measures that were passed this year in New York and Illinois await signatures from governors.

Connecticut exempted the products in its most recent budget bill, which takes effect in 2018. Similar bills are pending in Michigan, Ohio and Washington, D.C.

The co-author of the California bill, Republican Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang of Diamond Bar, called the tax unjust.

“If you think about a sales tax, it’s a tax on luxury items,” Chang said. “This is not a luxury item. You cannot go without this item.”

The bill’s authors estimate that California women spend an average of $7 a year to cover sales tax on feminine hygiene products.

The movement challenging the financial burden of menstruation gained ground Tuesday in New York City, where lawmakers voted to require free tampons and sanitary pads in city public schools, homeless shelters and jails. It would be the first law of its kind if Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio signs it. A similar proposal in the Wisconsin state Legislature has stalled.

In California, Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, said he was supportive but also concerned about the effect of removing the sales tax on local jurisdictions that rely on it for revenue. He abstained from voting on the bill.

In response, Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, acknowledged the need for a comprehensive discussion on the state’s tax policies. Still, he supported the bill, saying feminine hygiene products are a necessity just like food and medicine.

Democratic Sen. Fran Pavley of Agoura Hills raised her hand with a tongue-in-cheek question: Would the bill include state tax refunds for previous years?

“We should consider that,” Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, its co-author, replied, laughing.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California lawmakers are becoming the latest among several states to advance a measure to repeal sales tax for tampons and feminine hygiene products.

The Senate’s governance and finance committee voted 5-0 Wednesday to eliminate the tax, sending it to the appropriations committee.

At least five other states have enacted similar tax exemptions amidst a national and international movement to exempt the products, which advocates call necessities.

The bill’s co-author, Republican Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang of Diamond Bar, calls the sales tax unjust for women, adding that the law should never have been on the books.

Republican Sen. John Moorlach of Costa Mesa says he is concerned about the effect of removing the tax for local jurisdictions that rely on sales tax as a source of revenue.

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