houseofcards__130207005839-200x257Season 3 of Netflix’s House Of Cards is holding off on beginning production until mid-June pending the outcome of two separate bills in the Maryland Legislature that would ensure another season of lucrative state tax breaks for the political drama, which just launched its Season 2 on the streaming service last week. The Emmy-nominated series set in Washington, D.C., was officially renewed for a third season earlier this month. Series key_art_mrc_studiosproducer Media Rights Capital, which planned to start shooting  Season 3 in early spring, received more than $11 million in Maryland tax credits for Season 1 and Season 2′s incentives could reach $15 million, the Wall Street Journal reported today. We hear that MRC is seeking a tax credit for Season 3 in line with Season 2′s $15 million, which as of now is impossible as Maryland’s current cap is $7.5 million. The two bills, which are languishing in committee, would raise the ceiling to $11 million or $18.5 million. Deadline has confirmed that MRC has sent a letter to several politicians, including Gov. Martin O’Malley, regarding the bills. The letter (read it in full below) pulls no punches in saying that the incentives must be approved if the production were to stay in the state. “In the event sufficient incentives do not become available, we will have to break down our stage, sets and offices and set up in another state,” said the letter, signed by Charlie Goldstein, MRC’s SVP Television Production. The issue has been stirring a heated debate in the Maryland Legislature. “Is it possible that they would just leave after we gave them $31 million?” Del. C. William Frick, D-Montgomery, said during a contentious hearing last week, according to WSJ.

According to the Maryland Film Office, the 130 days of production on Season 1 and Season 2 of House Of Cards helped contribute to film and TV’s estimated $197.2 million in economic impact in fiscal year 2013. Season 1 “resulted in the local hiring of 2,193 Maryland crew, cast and extras, and the production purchased or rented goods or services from 1,814 Maryland vendors,” the office says on its website. Maryland also hosts the production of HBO’s White House comedy Veep.

Here’s the full letter from MRC:

Honorable Governor Martin O’Malley
State House
100 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401

Dear Governor O’Malley,

Thank you again for taking the time to visit the House of Cards set last spring to announce the enhancement of the Maryland Film Production Employment Act. The passage of the legislation allowed MRC and the productlon to remain In Maryland. We appreciate your strong support for our business and for recognizing the jobs and economic impact it brings to the State of Maryland.

We know that the General Assembly is in session, and understand legislation must be introduced to increase the program’s funding. MRC and House of Cords had a wonderful experience over the past two seasons and we want to stay in Maryland. We are ready to assist in any way possible to help with the
passage of the bill.

In the meantime I wanted you to be aware that we are required to look at other states in which to film on the off chance that the legislation does not pass, or does not cover the amount of tax credits for which we would qualify. I am sure you can understand that we would not be responsible financiers and a successful production company if we did not have viable options available.

We wanted you to be aware that while we had planned to begin filming in early spring, we have decided to push back the start date for filming until June to ensure there has been a positive outcome of the legislation. In the event sufficient incentives do not become available, we will have to break down our stage, sets and offices and set up in another state.

Thank you again for the support and assistance that House of Cards has received from the State of Maryland and your agencies, Baltimore City, as well as Harford County, the Maryland Fllm lndustry Coalition, the unions, and Maryland’s citizens and thousands of small businesses, I hope this legislative session will be successful and that you will be able to visit House of Cards and spend time with our cast and crew once again.

Charlie Goldstein
Senior Vice President, Television Production

Cc:
Dominick Murray, Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development
Hannah Byron, Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development
Jack Gerbes, Maryland Film Office
Debbie Dorsey, Baltimore Film Office

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