March 26, 2012
Amendment was key to passage of Justice's Law
ANNAPOLIS - An amendment to Justice’s Law — proposing a stricter penalty for first-degree child abuse resulting in death — appears to have been its ticket to passage this year after four years of failure.
The House of Delegates passed the bill 131-0 on Saturday, three days after the Senate did the same, 46-0.
The change in this year’s version was in the maximum penalty, currently 30 years in prison. Instead of lengthening that sentence to life in prison, as proposed the last four years, the bill’s sponsors and supporters agreed this year to make the maximum 40 years in prison.
Justice’s Law is named after 4-month-old Justice Christopher Calvin Myers-Cannon, who was shaken to death in Washington County in 2007.
Seeking a larger tax credit
A film tax-credit program has been a success, supporters say, and should be expanded.
That was their message to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee last week on a bill to triple the state’s current $7.5 million film-production credit program to $22.5 million.
The bill also would extend the end of the program from July 1, 2014, to July 1, 2016.
Thomas B. Riford, the president and chief executive officer of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, testified in favor of the bill and praised the legislature for its past support of the film industry.
Last year, the General Assembly replaced a $1 million Film Production Rebate Program with the tax-credit fund. The fund was proposed at $15 million, but the legislature cut the amount to $7.5 million before passing the bill.
Film-industry workers testified that the credit program has lured projects and jobs to Maryland.
Riford named movies that have been shot in Washington County, including a recent Civil War film.
“If you ever want to be a re-enactor, let me know, because we have a lot of roles for you, sir,” Riford told Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, D-Howard/Baltimore County, the committee chairman and lead sponsor of the bill.
“Washington County is hurting and we need every single job that we can get,” Riford added. “And the suppliers, vendors and small businesses really appreciate it. Because when a film comes to our town, well, really, that production company — it hemorrhages money into our local economy.”
Riford is chairman of the board of the Maryland Association of Destination Marketing Organizations, and a board member of the Maryland Tourism Council and the Maryland Film Industry Coalition.
Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, D-Baltimore City, said he appreciated the positive feedback, since
Maryland is sometimes accused within the Senate of being unfriendly to businesses.
“This is a classic example of that not being true,” McFadden said.
“Well, thank you, senator,” Riford replied, “and you can have a part in any movie any time.”
The Senate preliminarily approved the bill Friday.
— Andrew Schotz
Copyright © 2013, Herald Mail