Senator: Filming could replace lost factory jobs

Associated Press//April 2, 2014

Senator: Filming could replace lost factory jobs

By Associated Press

//April 2, 2014

ANNAPOLIS — Sen. Edward Kasemeyer says Maryland should look to the film industry for jobs it has lost in manufacturing.

Kasemeyer, D-Howard and Baltimore, urged the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday to pass his bill aimed at keeping the Netflix series “House of Cards” filming in Maryland. The committee will likely vote on the bill later this week.

Kasemeyer wants to raise the cap on tax credits for film production companies to $18.5 million yearly, up from $7.5 million.

He presented the plan Wednesday as a way of diversifying the economy.

“I don’t see, in a significant way, the future of manufacturing in Maryland,” Kasemeyer said.

Researchers in Towson University’s Regional Economic Studies Institute have estimated that the film tax credit program can support more than 690 full-time jobs a year at its current level, with average wages of $56,487 a person and nearly $200 million in output.

If the tax credit were raised to $15 million yearly, these numbers would likely jump to 1,090 jobs and more than $321 million in output, according to the group’s study.

Jane Love, associate executive director of the regional screen actors union, said more and more production companies are casting Maryland actors. More than 60 local actors had speaking parts in the last season of “House of Cards,” she said.

Opponents of raising the tax credit say the companies are demanding special treatment, trying to avoid paying their fair share. They worry that money invested in film projects won’t remain in the state.

The production company that makes “House of Cards” told Maryland legislators in February it might leave the state if it didn’t receive large enough incentives. So far the House and Senate have taken opposite approaches to keep it here.

The House passed a bill amounting to a threat — authorizing the state to seize the show’s property by eminent domain if it leaves.

That proposal is in the hands of a conference committee trying to reconcile the House and Senate’s disparate state budgets this week.

But the House could still go along with Kasemeyer’s approach, if the committee advances his bill quickly.


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