By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
There’s a difference of opinion between two Chucks over the Wyoming Legislature’s decision not to introduce a bill this week that would have provided incentives for film and TV productions.
House Bill 93 would have provided rebates to film production companies through the state’s tourism board as incentive for film production in Wyoming.
However, it failed to win introduction, nearly splitting the House of Representatives, with 32 representatives voting to send it on for further consideration and 28 voting not to do so.
As a non-budget bill considered during a budget session, two-thirds of House members would have had to vote for its introduction to move it forward in the legislative process.
Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, one of the legislators who voted against the bill, praised his colleagues for keeping it from being introduced.
“This bill was wrong for our state and it’s good news that it failed introduction,” Gray told Cowboy State Daily. “The bill would have wrongly used $3 million of state funds every two years to pay the invoices of film studios. That is an inappropriate use of state funds.”
Other legislators who voted “nay” on the bill included Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, Rep. Chip Neiman, R-Hulett and Rep. John Bear, R-Gillette.
But best-selling author C.J. “Chuck” Box said he was disappointed the bill did not gain any traction this legislative session. Box has regularly testified to legislative committees in favor of such an incentive program, saying it would benefit the state.
“Our Wyoming Legislature has shown, once again, that they have very little interest in creating new industries and new employment in the state,” Box told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday. “We can only hope that they’ll reconsider this in the future.”
Box has noted before that while he has pushed to have the adaptations of his novels “Joe Pickett” and “Big Sky” filmed in Wyoming, the production companies have chosen other states or even Canada to film due to production incentives and cheaper costs.
The 32 representatives that voted to introduce the bill included Rep. Karlee Provenza, D-Laramie, Rep. Steve Harshman, R-Casper and Rep. Mike Yin, D-Jackson.