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Strong Tax Incentives May Be Enough for Hollywood to Stay in States Restricting Abortion Access

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Hollywood has big decisions to make about where it’s willing to do business following Friday’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. Abortion is now almost completely banned in Louisiana and Oklahoma, two states that have been successful in courting productions through tax incentives. And in Georgia — the most important production hub outside of New York and Los Angeles — the procedure is expected to be severely restricted soon.

Louisiana and Oklahoma had so-called “trigger” bans on abortion in place, laws prohibiting the vast majority of access to the procedure that immediately snapped into effect when the Supreme Court struck down Roe. The other states with trigger bans on abortion that kick in immediately or in the coming weeks are Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wyoming.

But economics are not on the side of those who would like to see studios quit the Peach State. Georgia’s attempts to restrict abortion in 2019 didn’t deter Marvel, Tyler Perry, and other major studios from doing business there, for example. That so-called “heartbeat bill” was struck down as unconstitutional, but it’s now expected to get the OK by a lower court after Friday’s Supreme Court decision.

Another piece of controversial legislation, the 2021 voting law, didn’t deter production activity there either. In fact, spending increased in the 2021 fiscal year, jumping 38 percent to $4 billion compared to 2019. Georgia hosted 366 film, TV, commercial, and music video productions in FY 2021, according to state data.

There are two key reasons. Georgia has among the country’s most generous tax credit programs. Productions can get up to 30 percent back on their spending in the state and the incentive is uncapped: The government hands out as many credits as there are qualifying productions, issuing $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2021. By comparison, California and New York’s programs issue less than half that. See more here.

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