Senate Committee Passes Massive Movie Industry Welfare Bill

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On Wednesday, the Arizona Senate Appropriations Committee passed unanimously what has been dubbed the Movie Industry Welfare Act. The bill, sponsored by Sen. David Gowan provides tax credits to the film industry.

The bill met several roadblocks along the way, but as the movie industry’s lobbyist told the Committee, they finally found a path forward in the “waning days of the legislative session.” That path took the form of a striker bill, that had passed unanimously out of the House as a bill addressing pharmacy licensing in March, sponsored by outgoing Rep. Regina Cobb.

A “striker” is a bill that takes previously successful passed bills and strikes all of the language from it and inserts language in support of the new agenda. Strikers are often used to hide the true purpose of the legislation so as too avoid pesky members of the public.

In March, when Gowan was still trying to pass the original bill, SB1708, through the House Appropriations Committee, Aimee Yentes, of the taxpayer watchdog group, Arizona Free Enterprise Club said “that the $150 million refundable tax credit was not only unwise but likely unconstitutional, directing the committee members to review the Goldwater Institute’s analysis of the bill’s potential gift clause violations,” according to AZ Free News.

AZ FREE News reported that Yentes told the Committee that this “type of legislation only causes a bidding war between states that ultimately cause its residents to lose out, citing similar legislation adopted in other states and their current struggles. As for the argument that the tax credit would result in more jobs for locals, Yentes asserted that theory fails to prove itself in practice.”

“In addition to all the reasons why this is a bad bill for Arizona, and worse for Arizona tax payers, this bill violates the number one rule that guides the use of strike-everything bills,” said Jose Borrajero, director of the Arizona’s People’s Lobbyist. “Under the current rules, the subject of the text introduced has to be germane to the subject of the target bill. In other words, there has to be some relationship between the original text and the text of the amendment. No one can honestly assert that tax breaks for the motion picture industry is in any way germane to pharmacy board information change requirements. Of course, legislators do not have to follow the rules, and they often do not, but if this sleazy bill has enough support for passing, then there are a lot of members of the legislature that have a lot of explaining to do, especially since we have elections coming up shortly.”

During Wednesday’s hearing, Simonetta assured Committee members that the striker had support for passage in the House.

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