Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Bill adding sale of bee-related products to ag tax-exempt status advances through Senate committees


Senate committee passes a honey of a bill

(Feb. 25th, 2020) The Senate Finance Committee has passed Senate Bill 1388, which would incentivize urban gardeners across the state to raise honeybees by giving tax exempt status to any bee product sold. The measure is authored by Sen. Allison Ikley-Freeman, D-Tulsa.

Ikley-Freeman said a food desert in her district forced her to look at alternative ways for constituents to access fresh produce. This examination led her to a pollinating force: honeybees.

“Since much of Senate District 37 is in a food desert, many of my constituents have solved this issue by becoming urban gardeners,” Ikley-Freeman said. “There are several great extension programs available that provide folks with seeds to plant their own gardens, but we are unfortunately missing a key factor for successful gardening, which is pollination.”

Ikley-Freeman said that while many people are attempting to grow their own produce, a lack of pollination can make it a fruitless pursuit. For example, it could lead to zucchini plants that never grow a zucchini, she said. 

“Not only will raising bees increase the success of local gardens, but it will also give Oklahomans an opportunity to make their own honey, candy, soaps and lotions, and then sell those products tax free at their local farmers market,” Ikley-Freeman said.

A producer that sells agricultural products directly from their farm, orchard, garden or dairy is already exempt from sales tax. SB 1388 simply adds bee products to the tax-exempt list.

“I’m hopeful this legislation will encourage people across the state to look into beekeeping,” Ikley-Freeman said. “Something as simple as a honeybee could give many Oklahomans a second stream of income.”

The measure now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for a vote. [Blogger's note: the bill passed the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday by a vote of 17 to 0. It now heads to the Senate floor.]

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