Senate to take third vote on alternative to film incentives - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Senate to take third vote on alternative to film incentives

The NC Senate is scheduled to take a third vote Monday night on an alternative to the current film incentives program The NC Senate is scheduled to take a third vote Monday night on an alternative to the current film incentives program
RALEIGH, NC (WECT) -

The state Senate will take a third vote Monday night on an alternative to North Carolina's film incentives program that expires at the end of this year.

The Film and Entertainment Grant Fund was added to Senate Bill 743, and received a favorable report Thursday morning in the Senate Appropriations and Base Budget Committee meeting. According to the bill's text, the fund from the Department of Commerce will be established "to provide funds to encourage the production of motion pictures, television shows, and commercials and to develop the film-making industry within the State."

The bill spells out the amounts production companies must spend in order to qualify for the funding. Companies producing a feature-length film must spend $10 million, for a video or television series the qualifying expenses must be at least $1 million, and for a commercial the expenses must total $500,000 or more. The bill also establishes a cap grant funding of no more than $5 million for feature-length film, television or video series, and $250,000 for a commercial.

The Senate has appropriated $20 million for the Fund, with the money coming from what some call the state's "Rainy Day Fund', the Repairs and Renovations Reserve and the Savings Reserve.

"The bill is business-like," said Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) who helped draft the section of the bill dealing with the film industry. "It does two things. It cleans up the problems that the former program had, and it works to save the industry in this state. I think with the current financial state in North Carolina, it is a liberal amount for the program."

Supporters of the current incentives program disagree. "This grant program makes the (film) industry subject to an annual appropriation and to an annual debate in the legislature," said Rep. Susi Hamilton (D-New Hanover), who has introduced a bill in the state House to extend the current incentives with minor changes. "Businesses succeed best when they have certainty in regulations and rules. A debate every 12 months will put the industry in North Carolina in constant flux and we will most certainly lose business. Once again, I say that if it isn't broken, we do not need to fix it. My friends Rep. Ted Davis (R-New Hanover) and Rep. Frank Iler (R-Brunswick) agree that the best way forward is to extend the current credit with minor modifications, and continue to help the industry grow in North Carolina."

The Senate passed the bill by a 38-6 vote on second reading. SB 743 is the only item on the Senate agenda when the body reconvenes tonight at 7:00pm.

To read the text of the bill, click here (the Film & Entertainment Grant Fund can be found on page 19): http://bit.ly/1pIE9vl 

Copyright 2014 WECT. All rights reserved

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