As Republican lawmakers and conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity lobby for an end to Louisiana’s $180-million film tax credit program, some industry players are looking into ways to enhance it and introduce reform.
Will French, president of Film Production Capital in New Orleans, is heading up an effort to create a special loan program that would move incentive money away from the big studios and into the hands of Louisiana companies. He said a “well-funded working group” is putting the proposal together. The group will be ready to put resources, possibly in the form of digital buys and other outreach, behind the proposal when the regular session starts.
“The studios and networks and their production affiliates will never invest in Louisiana,” he said. “They are multi-national conglomerates, and their production investments and people are almost entirely in California. By focusing our incentive dollars on them, we are limiting participation in the Louisiana film industry to vendors — companies who service projects sent here by the majors.”
“Vendors” means trucks, lights, stages, caterers, lawyers and other regular business and service providers, French added. “That explains why we lost so much business after 2015, and why Georgia picked it up,” he said. “The studios simply redirected it. It also explains why our industry is hurting. All vendors have seen similar drop-offs.”
French and his working group want to see the film program “incentivize” production companies that would invest and — most importantly — be headquartered in Louisiana.
The idea is to encourage banks to lend money to these companies by permitting the state to buy the loans two years after they’re issued. The money would then have to be repaid to the state before the production company shares in any film profits. The revenue to support the program would come from a portion of the $180-million film tax credit budget.
Political History: Parish And Cur — Catahoula-style
March 23 was the 209th anniversary of the date Catahoula Parish was created. That date was just five years after the Louisiana Purchase.
Home to 10,000 people today, the early parish was attractive to Protestants and those of British decent, which added a new influence to the northern part of the young state.
Catahoula is actually a Tensas word that Native Americans in the area used to describe a “big, clear lake.” Catahoula Lake was initially a part of Catahoula Parish, but is now located within the boundaries of LaSalle Parish.
While some folks might tell you that the parish derives its name from the Catahoula Cur or Catahoula Leopard Dog, it’s actually the other way around.
Louisiana’s official state dog — so declared in 1979 — was named after the parish.
The breed certainly has a place in Louisiana history. Late Gov. Earl Long kept a kennel full of Catahoulas, and Teddy Roosevelt is said to have used them while hunting.
LOGA Under Original Leadership
After a head injury sidelined him for a few months, Don Briggs returned to the helm of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Assoc. this month.
Briggs had already told his colleagues and members that a full recovery was expected. Now he’s back behind his desk in Baton Rouge as lawmakers across Capitol Lake prepare for their regular session.
Briggs resumed his regular opinion column this month that runs in newspapers across the state.
His topic of choice didn’t surprise anyone — it was about the decision affirming the dismissal of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority’s lawsuit against nearly 100 oil and gas companies.
“A billowing sigh of relief was heard from oil and gas companies all across Louisiana,” Briggs wrote, “and with that sigh, came a little boost of confidence.”
First Bill For Higgins
On just day 76 of his new job, Congressman Clay Higgins passed his first bill on the House floor.
Higgins, R-Port Barre, became the fourth freshmen from his class to advance a bill past the lower chamber this term.
The bill is being touted as a non-partisan spending check on the Homeland Security Dept.
Replacing The Senate President
With Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, about to collide with term limits, a state representative from Jefferson Parish is already angling to replace him.
Alario has been a member of the Louisiana Legislature for the past 45 years, beginning in the state House in 1972.
For his part, Rep. Pat Connick, R-Marrero, is already on the campaign trail in Alario’s Senate District 8. He’s the latest in a long line of candidates statewide who are getting in line early for the Legislature’s 2019 cycle.
Connick recently held a fundraiser during a New Orleans Pelican’s game. But his host list may have been the real slam dunk. There were only two names: Alario, who Connick wants to replace in the Senate, and District Attorney Paul Connick.
As for Alario, he may not be going too far. He has hinted in the past that he may be open to running for his old House seat next cycle.
For more Louisiana political news, visit www.LaPolitics.com or follow Jeremy Alford on Twitter @LaPoliticsNow.