House of Cards may be leaving Maryland thanks to the kind of political wrangling that makes the show so fun to watch. A bill to increase the amount of tax-incentive money allocated to film and TV shoots in the state failed late Monday night in the state legislature, all thanks to a single clause.
The Washington thriller has historically gotten what it has requested from Maryland's legislature. Although in past years only about $7.5 million per year has been set aside for production companies in advance, the first two seasons of the show managed to net $26.6 million in tax incentives. But this time around, the show was offered only $4 million. Producers wanted $11 million more than that.
But rather than granting the show the requested $15 million, Maryland's legislature has allocated that amount for tax incentives for all productions, including House of Cards and Veep, which also shoots in Maryland. The bill was intended to increase that funding to $18.5 million, and its demise all came down to a few sentences. After it passed the House, a committee of House and Senate members met to hammer out a final version. The three House members in the committee wanted to include a provision that that if a production that has received tax incentives leaves the state, Maryland could demand the money back–a clause that the three senators would not agree to. And so the committee sat in gridlock until the session ended at midnight.
Tax incentives have long been a way for out-of-the-way locales (that is, places that aren't Los Angeles) to entice film and television productions–and the jobs that come with them. The first two seasons of House of Cards alone reportedly created 6,000 jobs and contributed $250 million to Maryland's economy. The show also claims to have employed 60 local actors.
House of Cards already pushed its third-season filming back several months to accommodate the hoped-for incentive increase. Now that it's not going as planned, those months may be just enough time to pack up and move.