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Kauai council kills separate tax for GMO research

  • On Kauai

LIHUE >> The Kauai County Council has killed a bill that could have resulted in higher taxes for companies researching genetically modified crops.

The bill would have changed the way taxes are assessed on biotechnology research companies. It had passed the Kauai County Council but then was vetoed by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., who said it could impact Kauai’s agriculture industry.

The Council affirmed the mayor’s veto Wednesday in a 5-1 vote, The Garden Island reported.

The bill had proposed to use lease amounts, instead of fair market values, to calculate property tax assessments on biotech companies.

Councilman Gary Hooser cast the lone vote against the veto, saying that large landowners can charge higher lease prices to companies that can absorb the financial impact.

“It’s frustrating because the underlying policy, I believe, is a very, very valid one: Different types of activities deserve different types of treatment,” Hooser said.

Carvalho vetoed the bill because it would have unfairly targeted businesses, said county spokeswoman Beth Tokioka.

Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura cast a silent vote on the bill, which is counted in the affirmative, but is a way to show lack of support.

“My goal has not been to shut down or target the seed companies but to reflect actual agricultural value of the land used for large biotech agriculture, because I believe they are a quantum level higher than conventional or traditional agriculture,” Yukimura said. “Since real property taxes represent value, I think it is reasonable to tax them based on a reasonable reflection of their agricultural value.”

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