Maryland House zings 'House of Cards' over tax break threat

State ordered to seize TV series' property if it ceases filming

  • Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season 2 of Netflix's "House of Cards."
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season 2 of Netflix's… (Nathaniel E. Bell )
March 27, 2014|By Timothy B. Wheeler, The Baltimore Sun

Responding to a threat that the "House of Cards" television series may leave Maryland if it doesn't get more tax credits, the House of Delegates adopted budget language Thursday requiring the state to seize the production company's property if it stops filming in the state.

Media Rights Capital, the Beverly Hills, Calif., company producing the popular Netflix show, wrote Gov. Martin O'Malley that it was putting off work on its third season until it could be assured that sufficient tax credits would be approved. If those weren't forthcoming, it said it would break down its film stage and move it to another state.

Del. William Frick, a Montgomery County Democrat, proposed the provision, which orders the state to use the right of eminent domain to buy or condemn the property of any company that has claimed $10 million or more credits against the state income tax. The provision would appear to apply only to the Netflix series, which has gotten the bulk of the state credits.

Frick called "House of Cards" a terrific show but said he thought the production company's letter "went a little far."

In an allusion to the Baltimore Colts team leaving Maryland in the middle of the night in Mayflower moving vans after the owners didn't get a promised new stadium, depriving the state of a professional football team for years, Frick said, ""We'll make sure the next set of Mayflower vans are going back empty."

Frick's amendment was accepted without debate. To take effect, the House language would need to be accepted in a conference with the Senate, which has already voted to increase the film tax credit.

tim.wheeler@baltsun.com

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