ST. PETERSBURG – A Florida Senate bill to add diapers and baby wipes to the list of tax-exempt items has made it through committee.
On Tuesday morning, members of the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee voted unanimously in favor of eliminating the 6 percent sales tax for diapers and wipes. A similar bill will soon go before the House.
“Diaper need is a really hidden issue, and we kind of made it our job to lobby for it and make it an issue that's more widely known,” said Torrie Jasuwan.
Jasuwan founded Babycycle, the only diaper bank in Tampa Bay, which provides roughly 250,000 diapers and wipes to families in need each year.
She spoke before the Senate committee on Tuesday and told them about the impact struggling for diapers can have on both parents and children.
“A diaper is pretty much the most basic necessity that a child could possibly ever need. Without diapers, you can't send your child to daycare and without sending your child to daycare you can't go to work,” Jasuwan explained.
According to a study by the diaper company Huggies, one in three mothers has to choose between buying diapers or basic necessities like food and rent.
“There were some times when she didn’t have any diapers and I had to put napkins in her underwear on her,” said one mother through tears.
Other families are forced to reuse diapers and wipes, which can put their children’s heath at risk.
"Babies come in with really bad infections and I can see it on the parents face, they want their baby to be healthy but they're reusing diapers and it's causing infections," pediatrician Chris Kitterman said.
Jasuwan admits that adding diapers and wipes to the non-taxable list would mean a big loss in sales tax revenue, but she points out the gain for each family. She says each percentage point gone would mean two more diapers for every family.
“If we can have a bill that would just give them a couple more diapers here and there by eliminating the sales tax, why wouldn't we make life easier for them?” she asked.
Opponents argue what the definition of basic necessity should be. 10News looked through the current list of non-taxable medical and general grocery items. While there are items on the list like drinking water, first-aid kits and insulin, also included are items such as bunion pads, wart removers, marshmallows and baby teething lotions and powders.
“It just makes no sense that ‘Orajel’ or teething supplies, etc., would be included but diapers aren't,” said Jasuwan.
You can read the full bill (SB 252) here.
To learn more about Babycycle, visit: https://www.babycyclefl.org/