Funding for sexual assault programs passes during legislative session

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With relatively few reproductive health care bills before the 2022 legislative session, only one survived intact.

HB 32sponsored by State Representative Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, which eliminates the gross receipts tax, sometimes called sales tax, on feminine hygiene products, was grafted onto HB 2, the General Appropriation Bill. Eliminating the GRT effectively eliminates, in simple terms, any product sales tax, which Trujillo sees in broader terms of civic engagement and political access.

Trujillo said she wants to see the poor and young girls “start to become more empowered and maybe this bill will help them.”

“I want young girls to recognize that if they have this need for these necessities, they shouldn’t be shy about asking for them, and also start getting involved and engaging,” she said. NM Policy Report.

The bill passed the House Health and Human Services Committee unanimously, but the House Taxation and Revenue Committee tabled the bill. The House Taxation and Revenue Committee subsequently amended a Tax Amendments Bill, HB 163, sponsored by Christine Chandler, D-Albuquerque, to include gross receipts tax deductions for feminine hygiene products. But that bill stalled in the Senate Finance Committee.

Trujillo said HB 32 was later grafted onto HB 2. She said if the governor signs the bill and keeps the provision, the tax elimination will go into effect July 1 of this year.

One of the arguments of opponents of the bill in committee was that retailers will raise the price of products if the tax is removed. Jason Harper House Rep. R-Rio Rancho said making exceptions on the GRT creates a “Swiss cheese” effect on taxation.

Trujillo said feminine hygiene products are “a necessity” and that if retailers have them, then Viagra, a prescription drug that can help with erectile dysfunction in men, “shouldn’t be a prescription”.

Prescription drugs are exempt from sales tax.

Trujillo told a committee hearing that eliminating the tax is a matter of equity, as women in low-income rural areas may suffer financially buying feminine hygiene products or endure shame if they do without.

“It’s very important,” she said NM Policy Report. “As a former educator but also as a community activist, parents and young girls have told me that access to these products is very important.”

She said she hopes to see feminine hygiene products become free in the state.

“But that’s another bill in the future,” she said.

State Senator Siah Correa Hemphill, D-Silver City, said the bill she sponsored, SB-197helped restore some of the funding for the New Mexico Crime Victims Reparations Commission to help victims of sexual assault.

SB 197 requested $5 million in funding for various sexual assault programs across the state. The general appropriations bill, HB 2, initially allocated $2.3 million of the $5 million requested by the coalition last fall. Alexandria Taylor, director of sexual assault programs for the coalition, made the request during a presentation to the Interim Committee on Courts, Corrections and Justice.

Related: New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs Seeks $5 Million in Funding

Receiving less than $5 million could hurt sexual assault programs, which are already underfunded, advocates say. Federal support is expected to decline in fiscal year 2023. Proponents have called New Mexico’s rank 7and in the country for sexual assault a “public health crisis”.

Related: Shortage of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners Impacts Victims and Families

Correa Hemphill said $1.3 million of the $2.3 million hinges on passing SB 197, which passed the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee unanimously but stalled. by the Senate Finance Committee.

Related: Senate committee passes bill to fully fund sexual assault services

Correa Hemphill said NM Political Report that the Senate Finance Committee added an additional $2 million to HB 2 for sexual assault programming and at a conference committee, committee members agreed to another allocation of $500,000, bringing the credit total at $3.8 million.

“I am grateful to have the opportunity to help fund these important services as we are experiencing a sexual violence crisis in New Mexico, which is the 7th nation in terms of the rate of sexual violence. This is especially difficult for victims in rural communities who often have to travel more than three hours to receive a rape kit in sexual assault nurse examiner programs,” she said in a text message statement.

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