An advocacy organization has filed proposed language for a ballot initiative that would allow Arkansas voters to decide whether feminine hygiene products should be exempt from Arkansas sales and use tax.
The Arkansas Period Poverty Project is organizing the measure in hopes of increasing access to feminine hygiene products, especially for women who may struggle to afford them, according to a Monday news release.
The group submitted a popular name and ballot title for the initiative to Arkansas Attorney Tim Griffin, spokesperson Jeff LeMaster confirmed on Monday.
Under a new state law, Griffin is tasked with approving ballot initiative and referendum petitions. Act 194 requires the attorney general to provide a decision within 10 business days.
The group's ballot initiative would define "feminine hygiene products" as "tampons, panty liners, menstrual cups, sanitary napkins, and other similar tangible personal property designed for feminine hygiene in connection with the human menstrual cycle," according to the proposed ballot title.
"Currently, 29 states have removed the tax on period products, including Texas, Louisiana, and Florida," said Katie Clark, Founder of the Arkansas Period Poverty Project in the release. "While 21 states in the US, including Arkansas, still have a sales tax on period products considering them luxury items, while exempting many other items from sales tax, including Viagra, vending machine sales, and newspapers."
According to the release, 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 due to a lack of income."
The group said in the statement that the total revenue from the tax on period products accounts of 0.01% of Arkansas' total revenue.
To put the measure on the November 2024 ballot, the Arkansas Period Poverty Project will have to gather signatures from registered voters, said Chris Powell, spokesperson for the Arkansas Secretary of State's Office in a written statement Monday.
If approved by voters, the measure would be effective Jan. 1, 2025.
The language of the proposed ballot measure mirrors that of an unsuccessful bills filed during the 2021 regular legislative session.
The Arkansas Period Poverty Project was founded in 2018 and aims to "promote menstrual equity in Arkansas through donations, education, and legislation," according to the news release.