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North Carolina Cuts Film Incentives To $10M Per Year

Photo: Filming of Iron Man 3

North Carolina will offer up to $10 million a year until 2020 to encourage video production companies to film in the state, as part of the new incentives package going into effect today.

The state's new grant program will give preference to filmmakers who use "economically distressed" locations or show attractions that could promote tourism to the state, according to guidelines drafted by the N.C. Film Office.

Film industry promoters asked state lawmakers this year to extend the state's 25 percent credit for production companies, an incentive that gave out $61.2 million in credits in 2013, and now say interest in filming in the state has dropped as a result of the new plan, the Raleigh News & Observer reported.

Production companies said incentives encouraged them to film movies such as the Hunger Games and Ironman 3, and TV shows such as Homeland and Eastbound & Down in the state.

Under the new program and under guidelines drafted by the state film office, productions determined "obscene" or "harmful to minors" will be ineligible for grants, grant applications must show how many cast and crew members are permanent North Carolina residents, and applications will be judged by whether they leave permanent infrastructure improvements.

The film office is taking feedback on the preliminary guidelines until Jan. 23. The program will start Jan. 26.

This and a total of 21 laws or provisions of laws go into effect today. They include:

Firefighters Are Subject To Criminal Background Checks

Current paid or volunteer firefighters are now subject to criminal background checks. Until today, only applicants to fire departments were subject to background checks. The same law calls on the Department of Public Safety to create an urban search and rescue program of teams located across the state to be prepared to help removing trapped victims from collapsed structures, trench excavations or other technical rescue situations.

Mandatory Retirement For Magistrates

Magistrate judges, which have many of the same duties as judges in civil and criminal courts, are now required to retire at the same age as judges: 72.

Pension Spiking Prevention

State agencies are barred from using the state retirement system to boost the pensions of top officials when they finish their careers.

State Reps. Jeff Collin (R-Rocky Mount) and Stephen Ross (R-Burlington) introduced House Bill 1195 this year after a News & Observer investigation found four community college presidents whose boards allowed for as much as $92,000 in perks to be converted into salaries, boosting their presidents’ pension payout. The colleges were Cape Fear, Central Piedmont, Sandhills and Wilkes.

Jorge Valencia has been with North Carolina Public Radio since 2012. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Jorge studied journalism at the University of Maryland and reported for four years for the Roanoke Times in Virginia before joining the station. His reporting has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun.
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