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Oklahoma Senate Panel Passes Bill For $5 Million In Film Rebates

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A $5 million annual rebate program that has been used to attract producers of films like last year's August: Osage County to Oklahoma would continue for another ten years under a bill that has passed a Senate committee.

The Senate Finance Committee voted 7-2 for the bill on Tuesday. It now heads to the full Senate, where it is expected to pass.

But lawmakers who oppose the bill say the program is a wasteful use of tax dollars.

State Sen. Cliff Aldridge (R-Midwest City) asked why the bill extends the sunset by 10 years when other rebates and incentives have a much shorter time period.

The state provides rebates to filmmakers of $1 for every $3 they spend on movie productions in Oklahoma, up to a total of $5 million. Supporters say the rebate allows Oklahoma to compete with other states to bring lucrative film productions to their states.

“Unlike oil and gas, we’re trying to encourage television shows that have a seven year plus run and they won’t come if the credit will expire halfway through production,” state Sen. Clark Jolley (R-Edmond) said. “We’ve been very successful in getting films but we’re struggling to get television series simply because our sunset is so short. They don’t want to have to relocate to a more competitive state during production.”

 A similar bill passed off the Senate floor and is now on the House side.

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