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House Advances MEDIA Act, Supports More Tax Incentives for Movie Industry

HELENA — The House of Representatives gave bipartisan preliminary approval Tuesday to a bill aimed at drawing the film industry to Montana.

House Bill 340 expands tax incentives set up by the 2019 Montana Economic Development Industry Advancement Act -- or MEDIA act.

Speaker of the House Wylie Galt, R-Martinsdale, is the bill’s sponsor and said it's a bill built to create jobs. Galt also sponsored the 2019 law.

“This is what will bring the quickest job growth to Montana we can find to get out of here,” Galt said.

Rep. Kerri Seekins-Crowe, R-Billings, said the bill could help Montana overcome its pandemic woes.

“2020 was quite a year,” Seekins-Crowe said. “Our state took a little bit of a hit. But sometimes in the middle of chaos, opportunity presents itself.”

The bill would raise the tax credits available for studios from $10 million to $250 million and would apply the tax credit to all production expenses, not just wages.

Butte Democratic Rep. Jim Keene praised the bill and Galt.

“And it’s such a good jobs bill,” Keene said. “And guess who he put to work? I’ve been retired for 15 years, and the jobs bill he brought last time, he put me to work.”

The bill passed its second reading 82-16. It needs one more vote in the House and to be sent to the Senate before a Friday deadline.

James Bradley is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Montana Newspaper Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.