We haven’t asked him, but it’s a safe bet that Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, likes watching movies. Most people do.
Marsh, however, might be in danger of being labeled as an anti-movie legislator thanks to his unsuccessful attempt this spring to suspend the state’s incentives to movie production companies for two years.
Those incentives are part of a state law passed five years ago designed to lure production companies to Alabama. At the time, and even now, the reason is clear: movie production can be an economic boon to states if the money’s right and the numbers are high. Several other states in the South, particularly Louisiana and Georgia, are miles ahead of Alabama in this regard.
As for Marsh, his concern is that the production companies are receiving more incentives than should be allowed under the law. (A study draft from the University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research has spurred the senator’s actions.) Marsh told Al.com, “At the end of the day, if this industry can’t show it’s bringing revenue to the state that exceeds what incentives are, I’m not going to be happy. I hope it’s a successful industry in the state. The only way we can prove that is to get accurate data from these companies and evaluate.”
If the Alabama Legislature created legislation fraught with loopholes — something that’s easy to believe, given its history — then it should move swiftly to correct the problem. Bad legislation is bad legislation, whether it’s about something vital (the state’s budgets) or something less important (such as film incentives).
It’s telling that the slowdown bill Marsh introduced during this year’s session didn’t create a huge ripple in Montgomery, particularly given the senator’s Statehouse pull. Even if it’s successful, the movie-making business won’t become a game-changer for Alabama’s economy — but it will help, if done right. Our advice to Marsh: use your Montgomery clout to repair the law next spring instead of suspending it for the time-being. Alabama can’t afford to let this opportunity go to waste.