Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Tax-free tampon supporters rally at California Capitol

Boxes of tampons are displayed in a New York pharmacy on March 7, 2016.
Boxes of tampons are displayed in a New York pharmacy on March 7, 2016. The Associated Press

With lightning speed, tax-free tampons have become a national rallying cry.

In early January, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, announced a bill to exempt feminine hygiene products from the California sales tax, arguing that women are being punished for their biological necessities in an economic double standard. The idea soon spread to a handful of other states, including Utah and Illinois, and reached all the way to President Barack Obama.

Assembly Bill 1561 – which has already garnered the support of 30 co-authors and the Board of Equalization – gets its first hearing today in the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee, 2:30 p.m. in Room 126 of the Capitol. If the measure ultimately passes, California would follow five other states that don’t tax tampons and Canada, which removed the levy last year.

Garcia will rally support beforehand, starting at 10 a.m. on the Capitol’s south steps. If boxes of tampons haven’t been dumped into the Capitol Park pond by the end, then this is a missed opportunity.

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ALL IN A WEEK’S WORK: While a package of controversial tobacco bills is still tied up in engrossing and enrolling, the process proved much simpler for a landmark deal that will raise California’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022. Announced last Monday and passed through both houses of the Legislature on Thursday, the bill is already on the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown. Though many businesses are wary, he plans to sign it this morning in Los Angeles, 9 a.m. at the Ronald Reagan State Building.

IN THE HOT SEAT: It has not been an easy month for UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi. Her very brief tenure on the for-profit DeVry University board sparked a wave of outrage over the University of California’s outside employment policy that has seen several lawmakers call for her resignation and prompted ongoing student protests. She is one of the witnesses who will testify, 10 a.m. in Room 437 of the Capitol, at an Assembly hearing on outside employment at UC and California State University, which has also received some criticism for its disclosure rules.

SAVING THE DAY: California’s snowpack is finally healthy again this year, but it’s no drought buster, so the state’s conservation push marches on. In February, water officials extended a mandate requiring 25-percent savings in urban water use compared to 2013. How much did Californians save that month? The State Water Resources Control Board will unveil the data at 12:15 p.m.

CHUGGING ALONG: In its draft 2016 business plan, the California High-Speed Rail Authority made a strategic pivot from south to north, proposing to start construction connecting the Central Valley to San Jose instead of Los Angeles. That move rankled some Southern Californians, including the new Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, and did little to quell Republican criticisms of the project. They’ll have a chance to air their grievances during a Senate hearing on the plan, 10 a.m. in Room 4203 of the Capitol.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff