California Mulls Tax Breaks For Movie Studios That Leave Strict Pro-Life States

A California bill sponsored by a Democratic state lawmaker would give tax breaks to movie studios that leave states which have enacted "strict abortion bans," according to CNBC

Assembly Bill 1442 was formally introduced by Democratic Assemblywoman Luz Rivas after Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed new abortion restrictions into law that bans the procedure even in cases of rape and incest - provisions opposed by President Trump and several other Republican members of Congress. 

Rivas said her measure — Assembly Bill 1442 — was formally introduced Monday and would be in addition to existing incentives the state offers to film and television projects in a tax credit program. In 2014, California more than tripled the size of its film incentive program, from $100 million to $330 million annually.

The bill would allow an additional tax credit starting in January 2020 for qualified productions that decide not to film in states that have “pending legislation or existing law that prohibits access to, criminalizes the provision of, or otherwise restricts a woman’s access to abortion services after 6 weeks from the beginning of the pregnancy or earlier.” -CNBC

"There are actors and actresses that are refusing to be part of a production in one of those states," said Luz Rivas, sponsor of the legislation. "I think it really puts pressure on the industry to reconsider whether they want to do business in those states." 

According to Rivas, the current film and television tax credits offered in California are “fully subscribed.” She said the proposed expansion of film incentives is an opportunity to keep more jobs in California’s signature film industry.

We’re willing to expand [the program] to other states,” said Rivas, who represents a district in LA County. “But right now we’re highlighting those states with strict abortion bans.” -CNBC

A record 150 film and television projects were produced in Alabama last year, including some which received refundable tax credits of up to 35% on qualified expenses, according to the report. Georgia, which also recently moved to enact strict abortions (along with Iowa and Mississippi) also offers generous tax breaks - boasting 455 film and television projects, including the movie "Black Panther." 

"A lot of the entertainment industry has relocated to Georgia because that state was very competitive in their own state film tax credit," said Rivas. "We’re trying to further incentivize the entertainment industry that currently is filming in states with these strict abortion bans to come and do business in California and share our values."

Meanwhile, the California Film Commission announced in march that the state was able to convince 16 TV productions to relocate to the Golden State, including Showtime's very satanic "Penny Dreadful" - which will spend an estimated $99 million and was conditionally approved by the state for $25 million in tax credits. 

Rivas said details of the new California film incentives, including the amount of money that might be made available, are still being worked out. The legislation, formally known as the California Share Our Values Film Tax Incentive, must clear various committees before it can make it to the floor of the Assembly for a full vote. The process could take well over a month.

According to Rivas, California’s film industry generates nearly $50 billion for our state’s economy. “California is both a leader in women’s rights and the film industry,” she said. -CNBC

New York-based Killer Films CEO, Christine Vachon, tweeted on May 9 that the production company "will no longer consider Georgia as a viable shooting location until this ridiculous law is overturned." Other Hollywood producers got behind Vachon, such as former Disney studio chief Nina Jacobson, who tweeted in agreement. 

Jason Bateman, star of Netflix's "Ozark" said that if Georgia's "heartbeat bill" makes it through the Georgia court system, he will not work in the state (an empty statement considering that could take years). 

Still, several projects have decided to remain in Georgia, such as Netflix movie "Hillbilly Elegy" produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Also filming in Georgia is AMC's "The Walking Dead." 

J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele - who are about to begin filming in Georgia on HBO's "Lovecraft Country," are reportedly planning to donate certain fees to fight the abortion law, according to the Reporter