SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Advocates say the grocery sales tax in Utah places an unfair burden on people with low income, especially when inflation has hiked up the prices for basic necessities.

Members of a racial and economic justice organization led a rally at the State Capitol on Thursday, Feb. 9, to encourage legislators to repeal the grocery sales tax. They gave out loaves of bread and a cookie for legislators in support of repealing the tax and a simple loaf to those who don’t

“Food is a basic need,” said Leonard with the United Today Stronger Tomorrow. “We believe it’s a human right.”

The statewide grocery food sales tax is currently set at 3 percent. Thirty-two states, including the District of Columbia, have eliminated the grocery sales tax, according to a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“Right now we’ve seen food inflation at record levels that have truly impacted the lives of many individuals here,” said Rep. Rosemary Lesser (D-Ogden). “[United Today Stronger Tomorrow] is gathered together because they care about the effect of hunger and the overall wellbeing of Utahns.”

In 2019, Utah lawmakers approved a tax reform law that would, among other things, increase grocery sales tax and create a refundable tax credit to make it up for people with low income. However, a citizen referendum voted to strike down the law, forcing Gov. Gary Herbert to repeal the tax package a month into the 2020 legislative session.

Rep. Judy Weeks-Rohner (R-West Valley) and Lesser are sponsoring similar bills seeking to eliminate the grocery sales tax in Utah this legislative session. The only difference is Lesser’s bill excludes candy from the list of exempted food and ingredients.

“We have the money to share,” Weeks-Rohner said. “As far as I’m concerned, food is a necessity, and the state could afford to have a tax decrease.”