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Sen. Honeyford lauds ‘bee bill,’ budget work

OLYMPIA - Following last Thursday’s adoption of the state Senate’s supplemental operating budget, the Senate on Friday passed Senate Bill 6402 to help bee farmers in this state.

The budget and bill include a provision to exempt honeybee products and services from the state’s business-and-occupation tax by defining them as agricultural products.

Members of the Senate on Friday also adopted the 2014 supplemental capital budget, which funds construction and other local projects around the state.

“Because last year’s bipartisan budget was balanced, we were able to put together a relatively minimal capital budget this year,” said Sen. Jim Honeyford, who sponsored SB 6402 and also serves as capital-budget chair. “I’m pleased that it was roundly supported by my colleagues and I look forward to working with members of the House of Representatives to reach agreement.”

The Sunnyside Republican also talked about the reasons he proposed SB 6402, which will provide tax relief for the state’s honeybee farmers and thereby encourage growth within the industry.

Many crops in Washington depend on bees for pollination to produce profitable crops, and the 15th District lawmaker noted the many products that come from bees, including honey, pollen, beeswax, propolis and others.

“Just as the state considers milk from cows and eggs from chickens to be agricultural products, so should it consider products derived from honeybees,” said Honeyford, who serves as the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Economic Development Committee.

“By relieving bee farmers of the burdensome business-and-occupation tax, we are freeing up their limited resources to grow and expand their businesses and create more private-sector jobs.”

Honeyford added that the exemption provided by his bill would be permanent and not subject to the 10-year expiration date.

If passed into law, SB 6402 would take effect 90 days after the 2014 session adjourns.

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