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California Legislature

'It’s time to tax liquor before ladies:' Lawmakers trying again to end sales tax on diapers and tampons in California

Assemblywomen Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego), second and third from left, before a news conference to announce AB 479. (Liam Dillon / Los Angeles Times)
Assemblywomen Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego), second and third from left, before a news conference to announce AB 479. (Liam Dillon / Los Angeles Times)

Lawmakers in Sacramento are trying again to save California consumers from sales taxes on diapers and tampons.

To pay for the tax break, Assemblywomen Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) want to increase taxes on hard alcohol.

“It’s time to tax liquor before ladies,” Garcia said Wednesday at a news conference where both lawmakers spoke while holding babies.

The bill, AB 479, is the second attempt by Garcia and Gonzalez Fletcher to repeal sales taxes on diapers and tampons. Both measures passed the Legislature unanimously last year, but Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed them , citing the cost to state and local budgets.

To assuage the governor’s concerns, Garcia and Gonzalez Fletcher  are including a tax hike to make up for the estimated $72 million lost in sales tax revenue. The proposed tax hike would be $1.20 per gallon of hard liquor lower than 100 proof. The lawmakers estimated that would equate to 2 cents per cocktail should distributors pass along the cost to consumers. Beer and wine sales would be unaffected by the measure.

Because the bill includes a tax increase, it will require a two-thirds supermajority vote in the Legislature to pass. Democrats have that margin in both the Assembly and the Senate, but Garcia and Gonzalez Fletcher said they hoped to attract Republican support as well.

“I challenge anyone, Democrat or Republican, who wants to say it’s not worth 2 cents per hard alcoholic drink to pay for these very basic necessities,” said Gonzalez Fletcher.

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