W.Va. Senator worries about movie tax credit that could help Bette Midler | West Virginia News

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By LEAH WILLINGHAM, Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia senators on Wednesday passed a bill that would restore the state’s movie tax credit after a Republican lawmaker spoke out against the legislation , saying she’s benefiting Hollywood as “West Virginians are left hanging out to dry.”

“I have a problem with the fact that Bette Midler is entitled to millions of dollars in tax credits,” said Republican Senator Robert Karnes, the only senator to vote against the bill. Karnes said more resources should instead be directed towards supporting ordinary citizens of the state.

“Gavin Newsom’s people kinda almost get heaven with this bill, but basically God’s people are being told to go to hell,” he said.

Using the proposed tax credit, filmmakers could recoup up to 27% of spending on movies and TV shows in West Virginia that cost at least $50,000 to make. The state would have no limit on the amount of movie tax incentives it can provide in a year, according to the version of the legislation passed by the Senate on Wednesday.

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The original version passed by the House would put a $10 million cap on tax credits each fiscal year, which begins in July. This bill stated that the office could grant more credits for any feature film produced with “West Virginia” in the title or if the subject of the film is “clearly identified as West Virginia”.

The House must now approve Senate changes to the bill before it can be sent to the governor for signature.

West Virginia previously had a movie tax credit, but it was scrapped in 2018 after a legislative audit report found the credit had only “minimal economic impact.” Republican Del. Dianna Graves, the lead sponsor, said she spent nine months closing the gaps in meetings with the legislative auditor and others.

Proponents of the bill say other states in the region benefit from the tax credit and that West Virginia is missing out on projects coming into the state that could bring economic development opportunities to communities.

Democratic Senator Hannah Geffert said Wednesday that when film crews come to West Virginia, they hire residents for jobs and spend money on West Virginia businesses.

“I wouldn’t dismiss us out of hand just thinking it’s Bette Midler,” she said.

Midler has been mentioned more than once by West Virginia politicians in recent months after the singer and actress called West Virginians ‘poor, illiterate and uptight’ in a tweet after Sen. Joe Manchin declined. to support President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act.

After receiving backlash, Midler apologized “to the good people at WVA” for her “outburst” in a follow-up tweet later that day.

In January, Republican Gov. Jim Justice ended his televised State of the State Address by holding up his English Bulldog and showing his rear end to the cameras and the crowd and saying, “Babydog tell Bette Midler and to everyone out there: Kiss her heinie. “

In his remarks to the House on Wednesday, Karnes also mentioned Oscar-winning documentarian Michael Moore.

“When Michael Moore comes to West Virginia to do his highly anticipated biopic of former Senator Richard Ojeda in Logan County, the people of West Virginia are going to pay the bill for it,” he said.

Ojeda is a former Democratic state senator from West Virginia who briefly ran for President of the United States in the 2020 election.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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