Film tax credit deal near

A tentative deal was reached Thursday in Annapolis to increase tax credits for film and television productions shot in Maryland, in a bid to keep popular TV series like "House of Cards" and "Veep" from abandoning the state.

A joint conference committee on the budget agreed to provide up to $18.5 million in film tax credits, significantly more than the $7.5 million that Gov. Martin O'Malley had originally proposed.

Media Rights Capital, the California company producing the Netflix series "House of Cards," warned state officials by letter that it was putting off work on the show's third season until it could be assured that sufficient tax credits would be approved.

The House last week signaled its resentment over the "House of Cards" threat by tacking an amendment on a budget-related bill to require the state to use its eminent domain powers to acquire the assets of any production company that has received tax credits and moves its filming out of state. On Thursday, House budget conferees agreed to drop the eminent domain provision and tentatively concurred to higher funding.

The House Ways and Means Committee, however, has yet to approve the credit increase or spell out under what conditions credits might be available.

Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, chairman of that chamber's budget committee and sponsor of the Senate's higher film credit bill, said the tax breaks were not necessarily to be earmarked for "House of Cards," but generally available to all eligible productions.

Kasemeyer, a Howard County Democrat, said he hoped the legislation will in addition to boosting the credits contain provisions to retain film and TV productions. He said he wanted to "stop this constant bickering every year" over how many tax breaks to offer to keep from losing them.

House of Cards has filmed much of its first two seasons at sites in Harford County and Baltimore, including renting space in the Baltimore Sun building.

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