Thursday, January 27, 2011

Committee tables anti-film incentive bill

by Megan Kamerick, New Mexico Business Weekly.

The Labor and Human Resources Committee in the New Mexico House of Representatives has tabled House Bill 19, which proposed to kill the state’s film incentive program.

That effectively means it’s dead in the water. The vote was 5 to 4 along party lines, according to the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber had opposed the bill, but does support greater transparency in the film incentive program.

Sen. Tim Keller, D-Albuquerque, has introduced a bill that would require the Economic Development Department to collect and track statistical information in order to assess the effectiveness of the film production tax credit. According to the fiscal impact report, the bill would formalize reporting and tracking requirements and allow for greater transparency.

About 60 people testified in opposition to HB19, introduced by Rep. Dennis Kintigh, R-Roswell, including Sandy Levinson, owner of Aquila Travel in Albuquerque, who said she employs 10 people with full benefits and that’s mostly due to the work her firm gets from the film industry. Getting rid of the tax incentive would kill her business, she said.

“I would, without a doubt, close my doors,” Levinson said.

Under the program, productions can get a 25 percent rebate on qualified expenditures in New Mexico after they submit their paperwork to the Taxation and Revenue Department following completion of filming.

Committee Chairman Miguel Garcia, D-Bernalillo, said he sees the impact of the industry every week in his South Valley district where film crews are often working. They eat in local restaurants and shop locally, he said. And his son has picked up jobs in the industry, after being laid off from a call center.

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