AUGUSTA – In a party-line vote of 19 to 16, Senate Republicans sustained Gov. LePage’s veto on a measure that would have encouraged filmmaking in Maine.
The bill, LD 377, “An Act To Continue the Visual and Digital Media Loan Program and the Visual and Digital Media Loan Fund,” would have continued the Visual and Digital Media Loan program, which provides loans for digital and visual media projects.
The bill received unanimous bipartisan support in the state’s Labor, Commerce, Research and Development Committee. Senate Republican Committee Chair Amy Volk sustained Gov. LePage’s veto even though she voted for the measure in committee and again supported the measure in the Senate Chamber.
“This program could have helped Maine-made media productions succeed and also assist in job creation and tourism for our state,” said Senator Linda Valentino of Saco, sponsor of the measure. “Film production generates significant economic activity in our state and helps promote this beautiful state we are so fortunate to call home.”
Maine’s Visual and Digital Media Loan program provides loans to digital media projects or visual media productions of up to $500,000 per project and is set to be repealed on December 15, 2015. This bill would have delayed the repeal of the program until December 31, 2018.
In Governor LePage’s veto letter he called the measure a “feel good bill” and noted that the program has never been used. During her floor remarks, Sen. Valentino pointed out that the program hasn’t been used because it’s never been funded noting that the program needs to “get its legs” before determining the program’s effectiveness.
In 2013, the Maine Film Office certified 16 productions in Maine, which amounted to more than $4.7 million in direct spending by film and TV production companies. According to film office data, this represents significant growth from 2012, when only eight certified productions generated $1.5 million in direct spending.
The bill, LD 377, is now dead.