Bill to Increase Incentives for Motion Pictures to Film in Washington Passes Legislature

OLYMPIA – Legislation to increase funding for the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program (MPCP) run by Washington Filmworks passed the Legislature today. HB 1914, sponsored by Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, increases the amount of B&O tax credits that the MCPC is able to award to films from $3.5 million annually to $15 million. It also increases the individual tax credit that a film can receive from $750,000 to $1 million.

“It seems like British Columbia and Oregon score all of the movie shoots, but Washington is a scenic wonderland full of talented professionals, said Riccelli. “We should also be benefiting from the film economy. Unfortunately, filming locations are often chosen based on the incentives that states offer. Washington created a Motion Picture Competitiveness Program in 2006 to attract and retain this film industry investment, but it has never been sufficiently funded. We have fallen behind our neighbors to the north and south.”

In addition to increasing the number of tax credits available for the MPCP to award and increasing the size of the tax credit each film can receive, the bill modifies Washington Filmworks’ Board to make it more equitable, knowledgeable, and representative of the whole state. The bill further sets forth a goal of committing at least 20 percent of funding assistance to productions located or filmed in rural communities and 20 percent to productions that tell the stories of marginalized communities. Both of these types of films would receive a 10 percent enhancement on their state investment. Finally, $3 million would be reserved for films that are produced in Washington or creatively driven by Washington residents.

“Increasing the funding for the MPCP will make Washington a more competitive location to shoot films and our state will reap the economic benefits,” said Riccelli. “By focusing on marginalized and rural communities this bill helps ensure that the economic benefits of this program are fairly distributed around the state. I am excited to take our creative economy to the next level!”

HB 1914, which was not subject to legislative cutoffs because it impacts the budget, passed the House on March 4th with a vote of 93-3. After being amended, it passed the Senate today with a vote of 45-3. The House concurred with Senate amendments hours late with a vote of 96-2. The bill now awaits the Governor’s signature.