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Nevada Legislature urged to restore film tax credits

Updated May 4, 2017 - 10:17 pm

CARSON CITY — Movie producers, elected officials and union, tourism and casino representatives urged lawmakers Thursday to revive Nevada’s film tax credit program, which was gutted three years ago shortly after its creation.

Assembly Bill 492 would provide $10 million annually in transferrable tax credits to companies that make film, television or other media productions.

“It’s all about jobs for Nevadans,” Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, said as she presented the bill to a joint meeting of the Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees.

Gov. Brian Sandoval included $5 million over the upcoming two years for the program.

Nevada lawmakers in 2013 created a pilot program for film tax credits, a priority for now-Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas. The bill included $80 million for the effort, but the credits available were reduced to $10 million in 2014, when $70 million in credits were given to Tesla during a special session. The program has not been funded since.

Supporters of AB492 said the industry was just gaining footing and looking to expand before momentum was lost when the credits were scrubbed.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said filming in Nevada amounts to “staying power and free publicity.”

Goodman said Las Vegas is a “skip and a jump” away from Hollywood, yet other states like New York and Georgia are outpacing Nevada to draw the industry.

“Four years ago, we were given $80 million, and it was sucked away from us,” she said. “Where could we be today if in fact we had the full potential of the $80 million?”

Creating jobs

Jason Miller of Silver State Productions said three feature films came to shoot in Nevada after the incentives were passed.

“Once we lost that tax credit, we’re back to where we were before.”

Backers of the bill said the program would rejuvenate investment in sound, lighting, set design, makeup artists — all aspects of production.

“We do equipment rental for movies,” said James “J.R” Reid, owner of JR Lighting in North Las Vegas. “You have to have the business to drive the brick and mortar.”

Since 2001, Nevada’s film industry has shrunk from $155 million to $73 million, largely because of incentives offered in other states, he said.

Caesars Entertainment will soon open a 48,000-square-foot soundstage off the Strip, which will be used for game shows and other productions.

Film tax credits would accelerate those types of investments while supporting a host of other businesses tied to the industry, such as caterers and limousine services, supporters said.

No one testified against the bill, and no immediate action was taken by the committees.

Contact Sandra Chereb at schereb@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3821. Follow @SandraChereb on Twitter.

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