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Will 'House of Cards' Return to Maryland After Incentives Trimmed?

While incentives were upped for film and television production, $3.5 million was cut during the legislative session. Is the money enough to lure "House of Cards" back to Maryland?

"House of Cards" star Kevin Spacey chats with Maryland Gov, Martin O'Malley during filming last year on the set. File|Patch
"House of Cards" star Kevin Spacey chats with Maryland Gov, Martin O'Malley during filming last year on the set. File|Patch

The Maryland legislature was deadlocked Monday night on whether to allow additional tax credits for film and television productions like Netflix’s popular “House of Cards,” so the show will receive $3 million less than asked for should its producers decide to keep shooting in the state.

The proposed bill would have increased the amount of income tax credits the Department of Business and Economic Development can award to film production companies from $7.5 million to $18.5 million during the next fiscal year.

But $3.5 million was eliminated from the incentives pool in the final minutes of the General Assembly session, leaving $15 million available for "House of Cards." The political drama received more than $26 million in taxpayer money over the past two years to film in Maryland.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch said that delegates thought the state was too "permissive" with how easily tax credits could be distributed, The Baltimore Sun reports.

"Our goal is to provide tax credits regardless of whether any individual production company stays or not," Busch said. "There's no guarantee that even if we passed $18 million that they'd stay."

The Senate already passed the bill but the House did not follow along.

Work on the third season, which is supposed to start filming in the spring, but has been pushed back to June.

Last month, “House of Cards” star Kevin Spacey mingled with Maryland lawmakers at an Annapolis wine bar as they considered whether to increase tax credits for film and television production, something that the show's producers say must be done to keep filming in Maryland.

Executives from the Julia Louis-Dreyfus HBO series “Veep,” which also films in Maryland, were at the event as well to meet with legislators.

The production company for “House of Cards” in February sent Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley a letter with this warning: Give us millions more dollars in tax credits, or we will “break down our stage, sets and offices and set up in another state,” The Washington Post reports.

The show stars Spacey and Robin Wright as Frank and Claire Underwood, playing roles as the vice president and his wife, in a series that started filming in Harford County in 2012 and returned in 2013 for its second season.

Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, D-Baltimore, testified earlier in support of the bill and said while Maryland manufacturing has not experienced significant growth in recent years, there are opportunities in the film industry.

“It’s an industry, I think, that’s creating a lot of activity,” he said.  

According to the Department of Business and Economic Development, “Veep” is projected to have received $22.8 million and “House of Cards is projected to have received $30.9 million between fiscal years 2012 and 2016. That total was only $1.5 million for other projects.

In order for a company to qualify for a tax credit, it must spend more than $500,000 in the state and the money cannot go towards an individual whose salary exceeds that.

Debbie Dorsey, director of the Baltimore Film Office, said recently that the bill’s failure would economically harm the state.

“It would really send a message that Maryland isn’t open for business,” she said.

Bob Higginbotham April 09, 2014 at 10:48 AM
What this rabble called "the house of cards" is doing is extorting the State of Maryland by demanding more tax breaks to film their fantasy here. They should have been shown the door as soon as they made their demand. That we have gutless so-called leaders has become even more evident with this debacle. Like the show, the justification for their demand is also pure fantasy.
John Cirelli April 09, 2014 at 10:49 AM
sounds like bribery to me . I want to film deck of cards can I have 1 million.
Not Perfect April 09, 2014 at 03:36 PM
They want to bleed/deprive the state of revenue. Let them LEAVE! The "rich" are the CHEAPEST creatures on Earth...

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