Senate bill cuts promotion of filmmaking from $1.1M to $200K

Rep. Bridget Smith opposes Senate Bill 75. (Freddy Monares/UM Legislative News Service)

By Freddy Monares/UM Legislative News Service

HELENA – A bill that would divert the state’s bed tax money to create a tourism and trade center in Canada is riling filmmakers.

That’s because Senate Bill 75 would also cut the budget for promoting filmmaking in Montana from $1.1 million to about $200,000.

Sean Becker, administrator of the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development, opposes the bill.

“The Department of Commerce is mandated, and I quote, ‘to use bed tax collections for tourism, promotion, promotion of the state as a location for the production of motion pictures and television commercials,’ ” Becker said.

Montana Outfitters and Guides spokesperson Jean Johnson was the only supporter of the bill.

“We think that $200,000 is not a big price to pay for a Canadian presence and all that it can lead to,” Johnson said.

Rep. Bridget Smith says she has a bill in the “hopper” that would provide a tax incentive for filming in Montana.

Freddy Monares is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.