Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Don Corleone Would Be Proud...

Stretch sends this story in with a simple question:
And the difference between Maryland pols and … gangsters is?

That’s right! NOTHING!
Maryland House zings 'House of Cards' over tax break threat
Responding to a threat that the "House of Cards" television series may leave Maryland if it doesn't get more tax credits, the House of Delegates adopted budget language Thursday requiring the state to seize the production company's property if it stops filming in the state.

Media Rights Capital, the Beverly Hills, Calif., company producing the popular Netflix show, wrote Gov. Martin O'Malley that it was putting off work on its third season until it could be assured that sufficient tax credits would be approved. If those weren't forthcoming, it said it would break down its film stage and move it to another state.
So, basically, the TV show has to continue to film in Maryland or they lose all of their property. I hope it's a good show and doesn't get canceled. I hope Hollywood is paying very close attention here, because this really ought to be a one-time deal - you know, fool me once, shame on you. If there is ever another TV or movie shot in Maryland, they deserve everything that's coming to them.

Take notice, too. The tax incentives and credits were offered to the studio specifically in order to get the production to take place in Maryland rather than on a sound stage in LA made to look like Maryland. There are many reasons to bring a Hollywood production to your area: local artisans and businesses see a sharp uptick in business, tourism flourishes as people flock to see the area where "Hollywood Show X" is based, your city/state's cred rises for other ventures. There's a lot of reasons to want to pull a production company to your area.

Which is why it's rather puzzling for the Maryland House to play this kind of hardball. The folks that run and bankroll Hollywood aren't stupid; they're watching this battle intensely and are taking notes. I suspect it will be a *very* long time before *any* company does any sort of business with Maryland after this disgusting display of wanton thuggery.

In fact, I don't think it's fair to compare the Maryland House to gangsters, because it's unfair to the mobsters...

That is all.


Dave H said...

Which is why it's rather puzzling for the Maryland House to play this kind of hardball.

Sounds to me like the studio started it by demanding more tax breaks. But Maryland's response my just be saber-rattling before the negotiations begin in earnest.

Armed Texan said...

IANAL, but isn't this a bill of attainder? Article I section 10 of the Federal Constitution forbids states from doing that.

While I think tax credits for Hollywood is bad policy, the unconstitutional thuggery is disgusting.

Sigivald said...

I hope they realize Netflix will fight such a seizure in court - and that the State can't just seize random property without giving a reason. (And "because we don't like them!" is not a reason here.)

No, Texan, it's not a Bill of Attainder, it's a seizure.

Bills of Attainder legislatively declare someone guilty of a crime.

The Legislature here seems to think it can use eminent domain as a punishment - I don't think the US Supreme Court will buy that.

ProudHillbilly said...

This is very much Maryland-like. And one of many reasons I live in West Virginia.

Armed Texan said...


I had not read the article, but only the blurb above. Now that I have read it, I still wonder if it is a bill of attainder. A rose is a rose, etc.

I see that they call it eminent domain, but I have never heard of eminent domain being used (or constitutional to use) on any thing but real property. The article is vague as to what property is to be seized. One could assume that the production property owns real estate and the state would condemn that, but the article quotes the amendment's sponsor/author as saying the "Mayflower vans ... going back empty." Real property by definition cannot be moved in a moving truck. I have to think even David Souter would find this a bridge too far.

Dave H said...

You don't have to actually win a legal action to win. The cost of dragging the state of Maryland through court to get such a law declared unconstitutional would set most production companies back on their heels. They're in business to make money, and they can't do that if they're paying a bunch of lawyers.

I still think it's posturing before they negotiate. I'm surprised we don't hear more of this whenever a pro sports team talks about leaving a taxpayer-funded stadium.

TheAxe said...

Dave - you mean like when MD was going to eminent domain the Colts just before they left? ;)

Dave H said...

TheAxe: I didn't say it was -smart- posturing. (grin)

Anonymous said...

Let's see, 5th amendment taking. That will take a federal judge about 30 seconds to rule on.

But since the MD legislature thinks the 2nd amendment doesn't count, it's really no surprise they ignore the 5th as well.

On it's face though, this is unlawful taking. I mean the average 10 year-old could figure that one out. That the MD legislature is less well-informed than a 5th-grade civics student says a lot about Democrat constituencies that elect them.

Roy said...

I don't know if it would be a bill of attainder or not, but if I were the production company, I would not give the state any notice at all. I'd just load up those Mayflower vans in the dead of night and head for the border. Maryland's a small state so if they don't go through metro DC or Baltimore, they could be gone from the place in an hour.

What are those legislators going to do then? Are they going to send their Gestapo into another state to seize the property? I don't think so.

And I would do it just because their high-handed tactics pissed me off.

Anonymous said...

If I'm the production company, I try to move the stuff. If they sieze my stuff, I hit em for 4 and 5th Amendment siezure/eminent domain (which, this technically isn't eminent domain because they aren't saying they will PAY for the equipment, just sieze it) violations and have any one of the rabid lawyers itching for a slamdunk Constitutional case have at them.

Note to self, avoid Maryland on next trip to DC if I ever go there again.

Joseph in IL

Geodkyt said...

Hell, Roy, that's what the Colts did, wasn't it? Just packed up and moved out in teh middle of teh night with no warning, like a tenant skipping out on his landord and overdue rent.