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Film tax credit program begins in 2014

CARSON CITY – Hollywood may soon be coming to a neighborhood near you with final state approval of a $20 million-a-year tax credit program to lure film productions to Nevada.

The Legislative Commission on Friday signed off on the regulations implementing the four-year pilot program, sought by Sen. Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, in the 2013 legislative session. The transferable tax credits will be available to eligible film productions beginning next year.

I’m ecstatic about the passage of the regulations,” Ford said Monday. “There is quite a bit of interest in the program from the film industry.”

Ford said he expects to soon see the fruits of the program in the form of new jobs and economic opportunities in Nevada.

Senate Bill 165 established the program offering the tax credits to television and film productions that shoot in Nevada, including for employee salaries and benefits. There are a number of requirements productions must meet to be eligible.

Steve Hill, executive director of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, told lawmakers on Friday that every effort will be made to move the process along to quickly award credits to eligible productions.

There have been a number of inquiries made to the office, he said.

“We don’t have a complete handle on the interest but it is certainly vibrant and we think we will see some activity fairly quickly,” Hill said.

Film actor Nicolas Cage, accompanied by Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, testified in support of the measure in the session, saying he was a Nevada resident who would like to work in the state. Cage said he had four scripts that could easily be shot in Nevada.

Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, a member of the commission, took the opportunity to remind Cage of his testimony at the Friday meeting.

“I believe that Nicolas Cage said he would do four movies if we even passed a dollar of incentives,” she said.

She urged Goodman to give him a call to follow up and make sure he is first in line with a production.

“Because if he is a Nevada resident and he wants to give back to the community then he better keep his word,” Kirkpatrick said.

Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, a member of the commission, asked for assurances that the credits would not be made available to companies filming pornographic productions.

“Seriously, I don’t want those guys getting a nickel,” he said.

Hill said it is not in the economic bests interests of the state to award the credits for such productions.

But not everyone is convinced the program will produce economic benefits to the state.

Geoffrey Lawrence, deputy director of policy at the Nevada Policy Research Institute, in a recent column, cited a similar program in Louisiana that did not generate anticipated fiscal benefits.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801.

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