Politics

The Maryland Legislature's 'House of Cards' Problem

April 8, 2014
 

The potential pool of cash available for the film industry shrank by $3.5 million in the final minutes of the General Assembly session, leaving lawmakers asking: Is $15 million enough for "House of Cards" to stay?

The Netflix political thriller, which filmed some of its second season in the Maryland State House, received more than $26 million in taxpayer money over the past two years to film in the state. When the O'Malley administration offered only $4 million in tax incentives for filming this year, the production company pushed back filming for its third season and threatened to break down its sets and move elsewhere.

Lawmakers' disagreement over how much to give the industry - and whether to put conditions on the money - lingered until minutes before the General Assembly adjourned at midnight. With just 15 minutes remaining, six powerful lawmakers argued forcefully in the lounge of the House of Delegates over whether giving state officials the option to revoke promised tax credits would scare off film companies.

"We're losing hundreds of millions of dollars in business," Sen. Verna L. Jones-Rodwell, a Baltimore Democrat, argued to House colleagues who refused to back down on the conditions. If the bill with the provisions did not pass before midnight, the budget only allowed state officials to spend $15 million on film incentives instead of the $18.5 million that was available.

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