Nevada lawmaker vows to revisit film tax credit expansion after bill fizzled in 2023

Three separate efforts are taking place to bring a film tax credit bill to the Legislature.
Tabitha Mueller
Tabitha Mueller

The Nevada state senator who proposed a massive, multimillion-dollar expansion of the state’s film tax credit system late last session is telling her legislative colleagues that she plans to bring the concept back in 2025, with tweaks including cutting the proposed credit amount in half.

In a letter Sen. Roberta Lange (D-Las Vegas) sent to members of the Senate on Thursday and obtained by The Nevada Independent, the senator said she plans to make some changes to the proposal, including reducing the state’s commitment from the proposed $190 million in annual tax credits over 20 years to $95 million annually over 17 years.

Within the letter, Lange hinted that the reason that the original bill (SB496) died during the 2023 legislative session without a vote in either house — in spite of a Hollywood boost from the likes of Jeremy Renner and Mark Wahlberg — was because of the lack of time lawmakers had to consider it during the state’s 120-day legislative session.

“I will be bringing this legislation forward again with ample time for you to develop questions about it and revisions that I think make it an even better bill,” Lange wrote.

Lange’s proposal is one of three ongoing efforts to expand Nevada’s film tax credits following the 2023 legislative stalemate. When the legislation was proposed, critics warned of overstressed infrastructure and said the money should be used to address other needs. Legislative Counsel Bureau fiscal analysts also described the credits as “negative revenue,” meaning they reduce the amount of money the state has to spend in its state budget each year.

Lawmakers restarted the state’s film tax credit system during the 2017 legislative session, offering $10 million each fiscal year. Nevada lawmakers counteracted trends seen elsewhere, as at least seven states have repealed their incentive programs since 2009, and many more have withheld funding, while other states with generous incentive programs, such as Louisiana, have scaled back their programs amid budget crunches and questions over effectiveness.

Though Lange said she would reduce the proposal's tax credit allotment, she does not plan to change a requirement that tax credits would only become available after private companies set up a minimum amount of infrastructure. She said the bill would still integrate the industry with UNLV through the university’s Harry Reid Research and Technology Park, with a proposed “Nevada Media Lab” serving as a film and television educational and vocational training center.

Lange told The Nevada Independent Friday that the new proposal for tax credits matches what she had originally conceptualized when she started to draft the bill, but the amount of money grew as more companies asked to be a part of the proposed 2023 film tax bill.

“​​We felt like it was more important that we get the bill passed and create a new industry to better our economy, than to really force it, try to get a higher payout,” Lange said. 

The $95 million aligns with what the bill is calling for in terms of the media campus and goals to develop a more diversified workforce, she said, adding that the bill is now economically more feasible for the state. But she said there could be room for other groups looking to apply for the credits.

Lange said backers discussed having a special session with the governor, but the bill isn’t ready for a special session yet, and this will probably be heard in the next legislative session.

She said she sent the letter to keep the issue on the forefront of people’s minds and have the necessary conversations so the bill is in a good place when the 2025 legislative session begins.

Since the end of the 2023 legislative session, rumors of two other film tax credit bills have spread: one regarding a partnership between Las Vegas’ largest land developer, Howard Hughes Corporation, and one of the nation's largest entertainment companies, Sony Pictures, and one that would involve a Northern Nevada coalition. Lange said she’s heard about efforts from Howard Hughes Corporation and Sony to work with other legislators and is aware that they will have a bill, but she has not talked with those groups directly.

“This is a Southern Nevada economic development package … we've done things like Tesla and those kinds of things for Northern Nevada,” Lange said. “I think that people are interested in one bill, and if we could get together and all do one bill for Southern Nevada, you know, that probably would be good.”

In a joint response from the Howard Hughes Corporation and Sony Pictures Entertainment to The Nevada Independent, the companies said that through collaboration with private and public sector leaders as well as community and educational partners, the Summerlin Production Studios Project has been advancing “its design to best meet the needs of Nevada.”

The response noted that “approvals are currently being pursued as the next step in an economic development project that will generate billions of dollars in private investment and create thousands of well-paying jobs for Nevadans.”

Doug Roberts, a partner with real estate developer Panattoni Development, said there is a coalition of community leaders in Northern Nevada working to include the North in film tax credit legislation, and the developer is working on feasibility studies and design on several sites. Renner, who stars as Hawkeye in the Marvel movie franchise, had pushed for Northern Nevada to be included in the film tax incentive package proposed by Lange this spring. 

At the time, Renner and former governor and UNR President Brian Sandoval advocated for establishing film studio infrastructure at UNR and tax credits for the northern part of the state.

The original bill proposed up to $190 million in annual film tax credits over more than two decades, with credits primarily earmarked for a pair of new major production campuses in Las Vegas — it marked the largest proposed package of tax credits in state history.

Lange's letter comes against the backdrop of other recent film company forays into the state. Southern California-based developer Birtcher Development, one of the groups that helped push the bill during the 2023 legislative session and is working with Lange now, announced a partnership in December with studio developer The MBS Group to create “Nevada Studios,” described as the “primary studio complex of the proposed 34-acre Las Vegas Media Campus, incorporating soundstages and other state-of-the-art content creation components.”

At the same time, Nevada Studios also launched a political arm. About a week after the announcement of the group’s formation, Tommy Ferraro, a lobbyist who has represented Birtcher, filed to register a "Nevada Studios PAC” with the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office.

“As California’s tax credits become scarcer to secure, the Southern California film and TV industry is searching aggressively for the next best place to do business,” Lange wrote in the letter. “Southern Nevada is uniquely situated to absorb the industry’s demand.”


Featured Videos