Senate Bill 3038, which is poised to pass soon from the Senate to the House for its consideration, would exempt taro production from the state income tax.

The bill reads, “The Legislature finds that the department of agriculture has pointed out that the state is most at risk for staple starches. Taro is a hypoallergenic complex carbohydrate that plays a critical role in the health of the family, particularly Native Hawaiians.”

It continues: “Yet, the cost of poi remains inaccessible to families most in need of this important staple starch food.”

A taro patch in Kalihi. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2017

The purpose of SB 3038 is to create “stronger economic incentives” for new taro farmers, “improve the livelihoods of existing taro farmers, and reduce the cost of poi for local families.”

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Mike Gabbard.

Interestingly, the bill explains that in 1901 the very first legislature of the Territory of Hawaii “recognized the role that taro played in feeding the nation by passing S.B. No. 87 to encourage the cultivation of taro by exempting taro and the cultivation of taro from all state taxes.”

That bill never became law.

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