Here is the latest brief summary of the legislative contacts and responses that we have gotten over the past two weeks regarding our suggested changes in the film incentive program that will, if enacted, greatly increase the incentive for North Carolina based companies to create full time jobs in our state while continuing to attract external companies that desire to bring their productions to North Carolina.
At the last update we had met with 35 members of the House and Senate. Since that time we have met with an additional 56 members, for a total to date of 91. Among that 91 are 29 Senators and 62 members of the House of Representatives. Among the legislators we have had meetings with are several key leaders in both the House and Senate, including the House Speaker Pro-Tem, the House Majority Leader and Majority Whip, two Deputy Majority Whips, the Chair of the Appropriations Committee and two Vice-Chairs, the Chair of the Commerce Committee and three Vice-Chairs, the Vice Chairman of the Finance Committee, and several other influential members of the House. In the Senate we have met with Majority Whip, the Joint Majority Caucus Leader, the Co-Chair of the Finance Committee, and other influential members. Also, we have met with the Speaker of the House’s chief of staff and the chief of staff to the Senate majority Leader.
As you know, we have also had meetings with the head of the NC Film Commission, been interviewed and had discussions with staff of the John Locke Foundation and by the chief state legislative reporter for the Associated Press. We have also met with the lobbyist representative for Screen Gems Studio to discuss with him our proposals for making the film incentive program  more effective and beneficial for North Carolina based media production companies and our ideas on increasing industry-wide employment of North Carolina workers.
I also had a brief meeting with Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker and gave her a copy of our latest proposal. I also gave Deputy Budget Director Art Pope and the Governor’s Legislative Liaison Fred Steen copies of our proposals.
Overall, we have been receiving very receptive responses from the legislators with whom we have met to our proposals for changing the film incentive program to more effectively benefit North Carolina based companies and to concentrate the program’s objective on creating significantly more full-time jobs throughout the state. Even those legislators who have expressed opposition to or have reservations about the incentive program have been very receptive our proposals for changing the incentive program to benefit North Carolina’s home grown companies and to use the changes we suggest to boost employment figures throughout the state.
As you know, there has been much press attention to the film incentive issue, with indications that the major studios, especially Screen Gems in Wilmington and the Production Alliance, are pushing hard for an extension of the film incentive that, if enacted with the modifications they have indicated are acceptable to them, would benefit only the major producers and prohibit late night tall shows, reality TV shows and sports entertainment from receiving any incentive at all. They also are proposing an increase from $250,000 to $500,000 in spending to qualify for an incentive. That, they claim, would eliminate low budget movies from using the incentive.
In summary, we have made significant headway in a very brief amount of time with getting our proposals heard and seriously considered. However, I strongly believe that if we do not continue our efforts to convince the members of the Legislature that the film incentive program should benefit not just the big out of state producers, but North Carolina based companies that provide permanent jobs to our citizens throughout the state that many companies will be hurt and a significant number of North Carolinians who work in the video and film business will lose their jobs. The General Assembly convenes next week, May 14th, and time is of the essence if we are to have a positive impact on the final debate over the film incentive issue.
Tony Adams
Adams and Associates Government Relations
(919) 801-1837