HomeLearning CenterGolf Balls and Feminine Hygiene: SC Senators Reach Unusual Tax Exemption Deal

Golf Balls and Feminine Hygiene: SC Senators Reach Unusual Tax Exemption Deal

Originally published by Alexander Thompson for the Post and Courier

For three years, a bipartisan group of female state representatives and senators have pushed to lift the state sales tax on women’s hygiene products such as tampons and pads.

The state House of Representatives passed the bill unanimously in early April of last year, but with the session winding down a year later, the state Senate, which has six female members, had not touched it.

The Senate, meanwhile, had passed a different tax exemption through the committee process — one for for-profit golf course membership dues.

That bill was sitting on the Senate floor ready for a vote until Sen. Margie Bright Matthews, D-Walterboro, objected to it several weeks ago, using a procedure that allows a single senator to at least temporarily block a piece of legislation.

“To me, it’s a rich man’s tax exemption,” Bright Matthews told The Post and Courier.

Then, in the last few weeks, she and her fellow female senators, nicknamed the “sister senators,” struck a tacit deal with their colleagues to use a parliamentary move to pass the sales tax exemption for period products in exchange for Bright Matthews lifting her objection to the golf tax bill if they did.

“As soon as I objected to the golf tax, everybody was coming to me because they had their rich donors, I imagine, or their buddies who said, ‘We got to get this, we got to get this,’ ” Bright Matthews said. “And that’s when they were … able to act like they were aware we were trying to get the feminine products bill across the line.”

The Senate Finance Committee pulled the period products bill out of committee April 24, allowing it to skip the normal Senate subcommittee and committee process. It went through that process in the House last year.

The Senate then passed the bill unanimously April 30.

A short time later, Bright Matthews lifted her objection to the golf tax exemption, and it passed 40-4. Bright Matthews, who said she still opposes the golf tax exemption, abstained.

“We’re thrilled,” said Sen. Sandy Senn, R-Charleston. “Quite frankly, we think that if we’re going to grant tax exemptions to things like boats and trailers and combines and various tractors, most certainly we should not be taxing something we contend is medically necessary.”

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