A proposed constitutional amendment to exempt diapers and feminine products from the state sales tax cleared the Senate Finance Committee, and is heading to the Senate floor, with debate focusing in on diapers.

Baton Rouge Diaper Bank Danielle Satawa says poor families often struggle to afford diapers, and end up needing to lift them from local groceries.

“Diapers get popped open and people will take two diapers, they won’t steal the whole pack, but they’ll take the two diapers that those babies need, and change them in the restrooms.”

Slidell Senator Sharon Hewitt opposed the amendment, saying eliminating the 4.45 percent sales tax on diapers would not be impactful for mothers, but New Orleans Senator JP Morrell, the bill’s sponsor, disagreed.

HEWITT: “I don’t know that that (the exemption) is going to make it any more affordable.”

MORRELL: “I think that if you were to put yourselves in the shoes of a poor family that is trying to scrounge together the dollars to make ends meet, I think you are not adequately putting yourself in their shoes.”

Satawa says parents spend about 1,200 dollars a year on diapers for a child, and eliminating the sales tax would save them roughly 55 dollars a year.

The proposal has a fiscal note of 9.6 million dollars, but Hewitt expressed concerns that that number is not accurate, if proponents are correct and families do indeed spend more than the fiscal office claims.

HEWITT: “So if that number is way off, then the 9.6 million dollars is way off, it’s been understated also then.”

MORRELL: “It could be.”

The proposal would need a two thirds vote in both houses, followed by voter approval on the October ballot before becoming law.