Aug. 01--Update: The House has recessed until 3 p.m. after adopting the budget bill, which still requires a third reading. The issue of adding language to extend film incentives could come up when HB 1224 is brought up for debate.
North Carolina's film industry could be hanging on by a thread.
The N.C. Senate late Thursday night decided to strip out language that would have extended the state's existing film tax credit program for a year. The amendment, proposed by Rep. Ted Davis Jr., R-New Hanover, had been approved by the House only a few hours earlier after a passionate debate.
Film backers have said changing the tax credit program to a grant program and capping it at $10 million, which is what was proposed in a compromise budget worked out earlier in the week, would drive much of North Carolina's film and television productions to neighboring states that offer more competitive incentive programs.
The Senate made the move to remove the language to extend the existing film incentive program -- along with the provision to extend the historical preservation tax credit program -- when it effectively folded two bills into one during Thursday's late-night, marathon session.
The chamber then adjourned early Friday morning to go home for the summer, leaving the House in a tight spot.
House members can reject the new bill, which also includes funds for a "closing fund" for the N.C. Commerce Department to help recruit businesses and a limit on the sales tax counties can charge and how they can use the proceeds. Or the House can add the film language back into the bill.
But with the Senate out of session, it isn't known when the other chamber would take up a bill sent back by the House.
Or the House can simply approve the modified bill from the Senate, meaning the state's film incentive program come Jan. 1 would morph into the $10 million grant program for the first six months of 2015 -- with no guarantee there would be any money for film after July 1.
The House went back into session at 10 a.m. today.
Check back later for more on this developing story.
Gareth McGrath: 343-2384
On Twitter: @Gman2000
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