Women’s hygiene products | Marco Verch Professional Photographer via Flick CC BY 2.0
Earlier this week, former Republican Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch put out an agenda for her nonprofit 1848 Project that read like a campaign platform. The same day it was released, WisPolitics discovered that she had quietly filed paperwork, a week earlier, to run in 2022 against Gov. Tony Evers.
One plank of that platform appears to have been taken from one of the most progressive Wisconsin Democratic legislators — Sen. Melissa Agard.
In 2015, Agard first introduced a bill that would eliminate the sales tax on personal hygiene menstrual products, such as tampons and pads, as well as diapers and adult incontinence products. She has continued to introduce it, including the most recent bill put forward in March. Her statement released March 2 read: “Menstrual products and diapers are necessities, not luxuries. These products are essential in our everyday lives and should absolutely be exempted from state sales tax. It makes no sense that viagra, potato chips, and Kit Kats are not taxed in Wisconsin, but tampons and diapers are. Ultimately, this is about equality in our tax code and respect.”
Pushing to eliminate the “tampon tax” is something Agard has become known for championing.
Kleefisch, who was in office when Agard introduced her bill the first time, put this into her platform:
“One particular obnoxious tax should also end: the “pink tax” on feminine products. We don’t tax necessities like food and medical supplies, and we should not have a sales tax on other hygiene necessities. The first state in the nation to pass the 19th Amendment guaranteeing equality in voting should not be the last state in the nation to extend basic tax fairness to all necessary purchases.”
Agard says good policy should be “passed, not plagiarized.” When Agard first introduced the bill, Kleefisch was serving with then-Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans controlled all branches of government.
“For eight years, Rebecca Kleefisch and her Republican colleagues had full control of state government. For eight years, they had the ability to pass legislation to eliminate the unfair tax on menstrual products in Wisconsin,” says Agard. “Including this policy in her campaign platform is politics at its worst. Empty rhetoric with no action to back it up.”
Not that she was asked or credited, but Agard has a few other ideas to add to Kleefisch’s agenda: “If Rebecca Kleefisch truly wants to support women she should also get behind policies that would create equal pay in the work place, protect access to reproductive health care, and advocate for survivors of sexual assault.”
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