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Frick: House of Cards have “themselves to blame”

If the producers of “House of Cards” are looking to lay blame for the kerfuffle over expanding film tax credits in Maryland, Del. C. William Frick has a suggestion.

Frick, D-Montgomery, appeared on MSNBC Wednesday and said Media Rights Capital, producers of the popular Netflix show “kind of has themselves to blame for the controversy behind this because of the over-the-top almost melodramatic way they threatened the state.”

Frick told MSNBC that the state has an obligation to look at how much the state is spending on tax credit programs such as the film tax credit and what kind of programs do not get funded as a result.

Earlier this year, the producers sent letters to Gov. Martin J. O’Malley and House Speaker Michael E. Busch and others stating their intent to delay filming the show’s third season while the legislature looked at expanding the credits. The producers went on to say that they might consider looking for other states in which to film.

The Department of Business and Economic Development reported that between fiscal 2012 and 2016, “House of Cards” received nearly $31 million in tax credits. HBO’s “Veep” received nearly $23 million. Other productions amount to $1.5 million.

Those tax credits do not include the increased funding in the bill.

The responses in the House and Senate could not have been more different.

Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, D-Howard, Baltimore Counties chair of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, sponsored legislation expanding the tax credit from $7.5 million to $18.5 million.

The House Ways and Means Committee held up that bill and Frick, a who is on the committee, fired back during a vote on a budget reconciliation bill with an amendment authorizing the state to use eminent domain to seize the show’s physical and intellectual property—meaning the state would own the show.

A conference committee looking at the tax credit failed to reach a compromise (subscriber access) in the final moments of the session Monday night. House and Senate conferees stormed away from a contentious discussion in the House lounge moments before the clock struck midnight.

Still, Frick said he believes there’s an opportunity for a feel-good ending.

“In the end I hope they ['House of Cards'] come back,” Frick said. “We want ‘Veep’ to come back. It’s a great show. They are having a great experience filming in the state so hopefully they’ll come back. Hopefully they’ll be doing it at a cost that’s much more reasonable to the taxpayers.”

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