One day after narrowly defeating a tax incentive bill designed to attract movie productions to the state, the Oklahoma House of Representatives reversed course Tuesday and approved the measure.
House Bill 2580 passed 65-28 Tuesday, one day after falling three votes shy of the 51 needed for passage.
The Senate approved its own tax incentive bill for filmmakers earlier, so it is likely that one of the two bills ultimately will be approved and sent to the governor.
“The governor favors extending the film tax credit,” said Alex Weintz, the governor’s spokesman, adding that Gov. Mary Fallin still will need to carefully review the final bill that is sent to her before deciding whether to sign it.
The dramatic reversal in the House came one day after state Rep. David Dank blasted Hollywood’s portrayal of Oklahoma on the House floor, mentioning the movie “August: Osage County,” a movie about a dysfuntional family that was filmed west of Bartlesville. Actress Meryl Streep played the mother.
State Rep. Steve Vaughan praised House members for having the courage to reconsider their earlier negative votes on the bill.
“I understand not everyone was on board with the content of August: Osage County,” said Vaughan, R-Ponca City. “But I do not believe this movie, or its content, gave us a negative image. Dysfunctional families are everywhere in America and this movie is one that can be related to by many.
“Not only that, but the national press around the movie has been very positive. And Meryl Streep went on and on about how beautiful and nice Oklahoma is. That kind of free press is priceless to our state. In addition, Hollywood is looking at filming a movie about E.W. Marland, our state’s 10th governor, at the Marland Mansion in Ponca City and I want to make sure a film about Oklahomans is filmed in Oklahoma. This film rebate act is important to my district and I wanted to stand up and support it as much as I could.”
State Rep. Todd Thomsen, the bill’s House author, said he believes lawmakers who voted against the bill on Monday received a lot of calls from constituents wanting them to change their minds.
“I think as those individuals had opportunities to talk to various members, they were able to cut through some of the rhetoric and misinformation,” said Thomsen, R-Ada.
The bill would extend for 10 years a program that allows filmmakers to receive tax rebates of up to $5 million a year on money spent on movie productions in Oklahoma. Current law, which is scheduled to expire July 1, allows filmmakers to recoup $1 for every $3 spent in the state up to the program’s limit.
The movie industry directly spent $35.1 million in Oklahoma last year, Thomsen told House members.
“I think it is a proven program that benefits our state financially, but also helps create an industry that diversifies our state’s economy and revenue stream,” Thomsen said.