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N.M.-filmed TV shows may get bigger rebates

SANTA FE — Barring an unexpected plot twist, a measure known as the “Breaking Bad bill” appears bound for Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk.

With a star of the long-running, made-in-Albuquerque TV show looking on, the House voted 64-0 on Wednesday to approve the legislation aimed at allowing New Mexico-based television shows to take in larger film incentives from the state.

The bill’s sponsor, House Democratic Whip Antonio “Moe” Maestas of Albuquerque, said the legislation could reinvigorate the state’s film industry, which sagged after restrictions on incentives were enacted in 2011.

“We were one of the (film industry) leaders, after Hollywood, and we want to recapture that market share,” Maestas said.

Albuquerque actor Stephen Michael Quezada, who plays a law enforcement agent on “Breaking Bad” and sat on the House floor for the vote Wednesday, said the measure would create more high-paying jobs in New Mexico.

The state currently offers a 25 percent rebate to film companies for most direct, in-state expenditures. Under the bill approved Wednesday, qualifying TV shows filmed in the state would be eligible for an additional 5 percent tax credit — or 30 percent in all.

“With the 30 percent, that makes (New Mexico) more accessible for TV series, including my own TV show ideas,” Quezada told the Journal.

In addition to the larger rebates for TV shows, the measure would enact new limits on giving rebates to nonresidents.

It also would tweak the annual restrictions on film rebates so that money unspent under the state’s annual $50 million cap could be used in future budget years. Such a provision would have allowed more money to be spent this year, since just $9 million in film rebates were paid out during the last fiscal year.

Martinez, who pushed to limit the film subsidy program after taking office in 2011, has said she backs the carry-over concept.

However, the first-term Republican governor has not indicated whether she would sign the provision to expand the incentive program for TV shows and a Martinez spokesman said Wednesday she is still meeting with lawmakers about the bill.

Meanwhile, New Mexico is not alone in grappling with film incentives. Arizona lawmakers are also considering legislation this year that would expand that state’s film tax credit program in an attempt to woo Hollywood filmmakers

After being approved Wednesday, House Bill 379 now moves on to the Senate.
— This article appeared on page A6 of the Albuquerque Journal