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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Two local lawmakers have introduced a bill into the North Carolina House of Representatives that local film industry insiders say would effectively ruin the film industry in the Tar Heel state.

Today, Rick Catlin and Chris Millis told us they were either too busy with obligations to their businesses or too scared that we would misconstrue their answers to interview and explain why they back House Bill 994. Both Catlin and Millis did give us written statements however.

“Individuals in the District and across this State deserve a government that is accountable with their tax dollars,” said Rep. Chris Mills. “HB 994 brings more accountability to our State government by reforming the ability for film productions to carry over their tax credits instead of receiving a check cut directly from the coffers of hardworking taxpayers.”

20th district Rep. Rick Catlin issued this statement about House Bill 994:

“The best incentive for business is a tax structure that benefits all businesses. The current process of picking some winners at the expense of other taxpayers is what I oppose.

However, this bill does not reduce the present film incentives. It removes the refund of unneeded tax credits and carries them forward for five years…. You would have to ask the film industry why they don’t like this. Their answers may shine light on the unusual present use of tax payer dollars. The cash refunds we presently give the industry could go to education, infrastructure and lower taxes for all. The deferral of unneeded credits over five years would allow the film industry tax credits as they are truly earned and needed.

Based on the bill’s committee assignments I would be surprised if it makes it to the floor. I was one of three other co-sponsors because I wanted to shine light on the details of how the present incentive program is being used. I knew this would cause controversy, but it is my job to look after our hard working taxpayers and ask tough questions.

It is sad that the film industry is threatening their local employees’ jobs as a weapon to preserve the costly and unfair arrangement they now have. I hope the film industry continues to call Wilmington home.”

Local film leaders say if passed; the bill would gut the local film industry. They say it would deny the agreed-to credit to productions currently in town, and would deal a lethal blow to the industry in the future.

“Unfortunately now we’ve already begun to get some phone calls from clients on projects that are pending that are now wanting to know should they even consider coming here now,” said Johnny Griffin of the Wilmington Film Commission. “With this legislation pending they can’t afford to come here only to have the carpet pulled out from under them so maybe they need to go somewhere else.”

State Senator Thom Goolsby says he completely opposes the bill.

“In the depths of the economic recession, with a 2.5 billion dollar shortfall that the democrats left us, we continued to fund the film tax credits because we understood how important that was,” said Sen. Thom Goolsby.

Critics of the bill say they’re planning a rally at the foot of Market Street on Saturday at 1:45 pm to protest.


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