Our view: House wrong to not exempt hygiene products

Luxury items? For heaven’s sake. Lawmakers are wrong for not approving HB 1282. They’re just wrong.

Herald pull quote, 3/1/23
Herald graphic

The North Dakota House of Representatives recently voted to exempt diaper sales from state sales taxes.

The logic behind that decision?

Because people who buy diapers generally are young families who are “just getting started out in life,” Rep. Mike Lefor, R-Dickinson, said in a report from Forum News Service.

But Lefor and a number of other House members decided that women’s hygiene products should indeed remain taxed. So, diapers are now exempted from sales tax because young people starting out need a break, but women’s products aren’t.

Among other exemptions in the state are most food products, prescription drugs, medical devices and farm equipment, according to the Forum News Service report. Earlier this session, the House passed proposed tax exemptions on grain bins and materials to build hospice facilities, biofuel refineries and coal processing plants.


All of those exemptions are for products that are entirely optional – even diapers, since most families nowadays are planned. Yet the one product that is a necessity for half of the state’s population remains taxed.

Simply put: Women can’t help it, and they’re forced to pay for a product that the other half of the state’s population doesn’t need.

Lefor continued: “We say ‘yes’ to some, but we have to say ‘no’ to some because if we did ‘yes’ to all of them, where do you draw the line?”

It’s flawed logic, and especially after the House decided that materials to build biofuel refineries, for instance, shall be exempt from sales tax.

In North Dakota, most products sold are subject to a tax of 5%, not including local taxes that can add up to another 3%. Sales taxes in the state bring in somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 billion annually.

The tax on women’s hygiene products generates somewhere around $700,000 per year. House Bill 1282 would have exempted those products from the tax, but it failed to get out of the House, dying in a 56-33 vote last month.

North Dakota is among 22 states that still charge tax on these products, according to an organization called Alliance for Period Supplies. Minnesota is among the states that do not.

According to the Alliance for Period Supplies, “too often, period products are taxed as luxury items and not recognized as basic necessities. Period products are taxed at a similar rate to items like decor, electronics, makeup and toys.”


Luxury items? For heaven’s sake.

Lawmakers are wrong for not approving HB 1282. They’re just wrong.

And we’re embarrassed that some exemptions do pass but not one that would save money for a segment of the population that literally cannot do anything about it.

What To Read Next
Get Local