Arkansas’ attorney general on Tuesday approved ballot language for a proposal to exempt feminine hygiene products and diapers from state sales tax.
While Griffin accepted the proposed popular name as submitted, he substituted several “minor changes to the ballot title on Tuesday to make it “more suitable and accurate” before certifying it.
Griffin’s approval means that those backing the effort can soon begin gathering the required 71,321 signatures needed to qualify the proposal for the 2024 ballot.
David Couch, the attorney who submitted the proposal, said he plans to have petitions ready before Saturday, which is Period Action Day.
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The initiated act, if approved, would exempt “tampons, panty liners, menstrual cups, sanitary napkins, and other similar tangible personal property designed for feminine hygiene in connection with the human menstrual cycle” from state sales tax.
It would also exempt children’s and adult diapers, defined as “an absorbent garment worn by humans who are incapable of, or have difficulty, controlling their bladder or bowel movements.”
The initial proposal focused only on Arkansas’ “Tampon Tax,” but Couch said he added diapers to the initiated act after receiving public feedback.
Griffin’s denial of the first proposal centered around concerns that the proposal could create a conflict for Arkansas’ membership in an interstate compact on sales tax uniformity, the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement.
Although he approved the ballot title and popular name, Griffin on Tuesday expressed several “issues” with the text of the measure.
First, the text still does not mirror the exact language in the Streamlined Agreement.
“But because the substance of your proposed initiated act complies with the Streamlined Agreement, there is no longer ambiguity about the measure’s intent and, therefore, no basis to reject your submission or modify the ballot title in this regard,” Griffin wrote.
Second, Griffin identified two grammatical mistakes, and he also said the provisions in the measures should have been labeled with numbers instead of letters to match the format of the existing state law the initiative would amend.
Griffin, though, said he doesn’t have the authority to correct errors in a proposed measure.
“Because none of the deficiencies in your text are ambiguous or misleading, they are not grounds to reject your submission. But I have flagged them here in case you wish you to correct these errors and resubmit your popular name and ballot title with the revised text for my review and certification,” Griffin wrote.
Couch said he does not plan to rewrite or resubmit the measure, which is modeled after a bill introduced by a pair of Republican state lawmakers in 2021.
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Arkansas remains one of 21 states that continue to tax period products, despite exempting other health-related products.
According to the Arkansas Period Poverty Project, which backs the measure, the proceeds from the tax on period products comprises less than .01% of Arkansas’ total state revenue.
“The average menstruator will spend an average of $11,000 in their lifetime on period products, and one in four menstruators in Arkansas struggle to afford period products,” the group said in a news release.
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