On International Women’s Day, Colorado legislators are moving forward with a bill that would exempt diapers from the state’s 2.9% sales tax in an effort to make the necessary item more affordable for women and families.
Families with children shell out a whopping $50-$60 monthly on diapers per child, a significant financial burden for low-income families. For a family of four living at the poverty level, that expense represents about ten percent of its annual budget.
HB1195 would cover the cost of a child’s diapers for one day each month, which equates to $30 in savings annually per child.
“One day a month is sometimes that day you’re waiting for your paycheck to come through,” says Melissa Rivera, mother and Executive Director of The Nappie Project, which helps ensure families have an adequate supply of diapers.
Rivera says the bill would provide some relief for families living below the poverty line so that they are less likely to have to reuse disposable diapers or skimp on changing them regularly, which can pose health risks to children.
Rivera adds that the six diaper banks in the state don’t provide enough assistance, and unlike other necessities, diapers are not eligible purchases under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or the Women, Infant and Children’s Program (WIC).
The bill was a key focus of today’s Women and Families Wednesdays at the Capitol, a weekly event in which advocacy groups discuss upcoming legislation with citizens and instruct them on how to lobby their representatives.
The bill passed the House Finance Committee this morning with a 7-5 vote.
Colorado Women’s Lobby vice chair Ashley Wheeland says lobbying for legislation that focuses on the needs of women is especially pertinent on International Women’s Day.
The group also lobbied in support of a bill that would allow women on private health plans to fill prescriptions for a year’s supply of birth control in one visit to their pharmacy.
Supporters say HB1186 will make women’s lives easier by ensuring they don’t have to deal with the logistical challenges posed by having to pick up their prescriptions each month, which especially affects women with unpredictable work schedules. This could prevent lapses in contraceptive coverage that make birth control less effective.
The hearing for that bill is scheduled for tomorrow.