Health

Michigan State Senator Faces Backlash over Tampon Tax Repeal Bill

April 16th 2016

By:
Alex Mierjeski

A Michigan state senator is on a mission to repeal his state's taxation of feminine hygiene products, including tampons, which are still deemed to be "luxury" items.

According to Michigan Sen. David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights), it's an antiquated designation written into the law by men that puts an unfair burden on women.

Earlier this week, Knezek, along with Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor), introduced bills that would repeal Michigan's so-called tampon tax, a move that would put Michigan in line with recent legislation passed in New York, Minnesota, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

Knezek broke it down during his speech on the senate floor on Wednesday, April 13.

"We do live in an unequal society," he continued. "One where women's and women's health is not given the same priority as a man's. And because Michigan's tax code was largely created by men, tampons and other products have been classified as optional, as luxury items."

Tampon taxes across the country have been reexamined, as critics have argued that the taxes impose indefensible burdens on women, especially those in lower income brackets.

Even as a number of states (and countries) take steps to roll back fees placed on feminine products, the issue is still met with dismissive, and at times, sophomoric behavior.

Fusion Tampon Tax Map

Knezek, whose speech was interrupted at least once by the chatter of his colleagues, confirmed as much this week. "By the time I was done giving my speech on the Senate floor, someone had put a tampon on my desk," he told Local 4 in Michigan.

In a lengthy Facebook post, Knezek laid out the necessity and seriousness of addressing the issue.

Along with the need for education about the feminine products in question, the post notes the broader implications the issue carries, beyond just dollars and cents.

"I think even I was nervous to talk about this in front of others and I know many folks, male and female, have expressed similar feelings to me," the post reads. "I hope, if anything, this might start to remove the taboo that surrounds talking about these things and having these very important conversations.

Watch Knezek's full senate floor speech below.