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A day after defeat, Senate passes film tax credits bill

A day after rejecting a proposal to create new tax credits for Arizona’s fledgling film industry, senators changed their minds and passed the legislation.

Some said they were persuaded to ultimately support the legislation after having read a study showing Arizona would benefit from the program.

The study was commissioned by the Bruce Bodner Company, which wants to build the $100 million movie production studio called Avondale Live.

“I do believe that the numbers show that it will increase funds into the general fund and that’s the bottom line right now,” said Sen. Meg Burton-Cahill, a Democrat from Tempe.

S1409 received the minimum 16 votes to squeak through on April 6; 13 lawmakers voted against it. The bill passed shortly after Sen. John Nelson, the bill’s author, successfully asked his colleagues to reconsider its failure.

The day before, senators had rejected the measure, 11-16. Those who initially balked at the bill but eventually supported it included Burton-Cahill, and Sens. Linda Gray of Glendale and David Braswell of Phoenix.

The bill also rode on the backing of Sen. Manny Alvarez, a Democrat from Elfrida. Alvarez was absent on the floor during the April 5 third-reading of S1409. He voted “yes” on April 6.

But the battle is from far over. The bill now heads over to the House, and supporters are racing against time to get approval for in the other chamber.

“You got to convince people (to support it) in a very short period of time. There isn’t time to work the bill as we had over here,” Nelson told the Arizona Capitol Times.

Nelson said two changes are likely going to be made to the bill. One is to put a sunset date on the program, and the other is to lower the cap on the aggregate amount of tax credits that production companies can claim. Right now, the cap is $70 million.

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