The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

North Carolina lawmakers press for special session to pass film subsidies, economic development bill

A scene from the CBS drama “Under The Dome,” which is filmed in North Carolina. Pictured from left, actors Grace Victoria Cox (Melanie) and Rachelle Lefevre (Julia).  (Brownie Harris / CBS Broadcasting Inc.)

North Carolina lawmakers are pressuring Gov. Pat McCrory (R) to call a special session of the state legislature to pass a package of economic development bills, including one extending tax incentives for film and television production, that wasn’t passed before the General Assembly adjourned last week.

“He’s getting pressure from lots of different places,” Rep. Susi Hamilton (D) told The Post. “It’s coming from his own cabinet.”

Attempts during the session to pass an economic development bill were unsuccessful, in part, because it lacked subsidies for film, solar energy and historic preservation, items unpopular with lawmakers who identify with the tea party but a dealbreaker without them for others.

“There’s basically three parties in the General Assembly right now: tea party, Republicans and Democrats,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton and Rep. Ted Davis (R), sent a request to the governor’s office Thursday, calling for a special session to pass a new package of bills aimed at economic development and arguing without them, “our state is not competitive globally or in the Southeast United States.”

Davis called the proposal “a package that can be supported by both Republicans and Democrats.”

Their request calls for a year extension of the state’s film tax incentive program, which last year awarded $61 million in incentives. If the program is not extended, will expire in January, replaced by a $10 million a year grant program.

Willmington, N.C., one of the state’s major film hubs, and the county it’s located in, New Hanover, have also requested the governor call a special session, as has Secretary of Commerce Sharon Decker (R).

Those who work and advocate for the state’s film industry have said the uncertainty over whether North Carolina will continue its current incentive program has already caused projects to leave the state, and some families are considering moving to Georgia or Louisiana, which offer incentives.

The request also calls for a re-authorization of a historic rehabilitation tax credit, renewable energy tax credit, and additional funds for the Job Development Investment Grant, a fund used to lure companies to the state, is expected to run out of money by October.

McCrory’s office earlier this week did not indicate whether it would call a special session or not.