Frank Underwood would be proud: State could soon have power to take show’s property -- Gazette.Net


ANNAPOLIS — “House of Cards” might think twice before leaving Maryland. The state could soon have the power to take the show’s property through eminent domain.

At the close of a lengthy budget debate Thursday, Del. C. William Frick (D-Dist. 16) of Bethesda proposed the state be able to use its power of eminent domain if a film production company that has claimed more than $10 million in tax credits decides to pack up shop and leave the state.

Frick’s idea passed as an amendment to the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2014, a companion bill to the annual budget.

The amendment allows the state to purchase or condemn for public use, without compensation, the private property of a qualified film production company operating in the state, including contractual interests or intellectual property.

The first two seasons of “House of Cards” were filmed in Maryland, including scenes in the State House.

But the production company, Media Rights Capital, halted filming of the show’s third season to wait for the General Assembly to consider possibly increasing an income tax credit for film production.

MRC senior vice president Charlie Goldstein warned that if more tax incentives do not become available, “House of Cards” will break down its stage, sets and offices and head to another state.

“House of Cards” receives the lion’s share of the state’s tax credit for film production.

Kevin Spacey, who plays the unscrupulous Frank Underwood on the show, even schmoozed lawmakers last week, hoping to secure House support for increase tax incentive. The Senate voted to increase the tax credit fund from $7.5 million to $18.5 million. The House has yet to vote.

But MRC’s demands have already met with opposition in the House.

On Wednesday, Del. Mark N. Fisher (R-Dist. 27B) of Prince Frederick proposed eliminating a state tax credit for film production, an incentive for projects such as the Netflix hit “House of Cards” to film in the state.

But the House pushed back his attempt to deal “House of Cards” a losing hand defeating an attempt to add that amendment to a state budget companion bill.