AUSTIN – Rep. Tony Tinderholt of Arlington dealt a potentially lethal blow against one of the city of Fort Worth’s leading legislative initiatives with a parliamentary move that sidelined legislation to expand film production in Texas and Fort Worth.
House Republican Chair Craig Goldman of Fort Worth, the bill’s sponsor, sharply condemned the actions of his fellow Tarrant County Republican and is working to get House Bill 4419 back on track before the legislative session ends on May 29.
“In my opinion, he’s not representing the 200,000 people he represents, or 30 million Texans who live in our state,” Goodman said. “He’s a caucus of one representing himself.
“Everyone in Fort Worth and Tarrant County who I’ve been working with to pass this bill on their behalf has worked so hard. It’s disappointing that a member from Tarrant County would kill it.”
Goldman and Tinderholt had a heated exchange Wednesday, May 3, on the House floor after Goldman learned that his colleague planned a point of order to block consideration of HB 4419.
“I have never been cursed at as much by a single member as I was today. It was (a) disrespectful display of behavior unbecoming of the Texas legislature,” Tinderholt said in a text without mentioning Goldman by name. “Luckily, taxpayers prevailed and my constituents won’t be forced to pay for some liberal Hollywood film to be produced.
The bill was struck down on a point of order after House parliamentarians, ruling in Tinderholt’s favor, held that the bill’s analysis was incomplete, Goldman said. The Fort Worth lawmaker said he had urged Tinderholt to vote against the measure if he opposed the bill, but not to deny a full House vote on a parliamentary move.
“Leaders of Fort Worth, leaders of Tarrant County have worked so hard to craft it on behalf of our city and our county. Yeah you get upset,” Goldman said. “And yeah I was upset. I’m upset at him because one person shouldn’t decide for 30 million Texans what should pass and not pass.
This was a big bill.
“And for him to easily wave a magic wand and kill it because he personally thought it was bad policy rather than letting it get a vote among the members of the Texas House in my opinion is highly disrespectful.”
“The rules allow for a point of order, it’s a part of the process,” Tinderholt said in defending his actions. “I am respectful to everyone, they are all my colleagues and I respect their votes and actions on behalf of their districts regardless of our political differences.”
Tinderholt also posted a comment on Twitter about his action on HB 4419, saying “I raised a point of order against HB 4419, a bill that would give taxpayer dollars to yet another film and television subsidies fund. I will never understand how Republicans think this stuff is an appropriate use of tax dollars, particularly since the film industry hates our values and everything we stand for. Let them pay for their own left-wing propaganda.”
HB 4419, which Goldman described as “a game-changer” in Fort Worth’s plans to expand its burgeoning film industry, would have created two film trust funds to help draw film production to Fort Worth and Texas.
Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker, accompanied by actor-filmmaker Taylor Sheridan,
designated film industry initiatives as a top priority during a lobbying trip to Austin in early February. Sheridan, who grew up in Fort Worth, is co-creator of the popular TV series “Yellowstone” and two spinoff series, “1883’’ – much of which was filmed in Fort Worth – and “1923,” starring Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren.
Goldman says a happy ending is still possible
The next step for Goldman and other supporters is to rush the corrected bill back through the committee process to get a vote by the full 150-member House with one week left before a critical deadline. The 88th Legislature adjourns on May 29.
The first step came Thursday morning when the House Culture, Recreation and Tourism Committee, which had passed the bill earlier, approved the corrected measure in a regularly scheduled meeting on a vote of 6-0, with three absences. Goldman now hopes to win swift approval by the House Calendars Committee, the clearing house for advancing bills to the House floor, possibly in time for a rare House session on Saturday. House bills that don’t come up for initial consideration on the House floor by midnight Thursday, May 11, are dead.
“We’ll get it to the calendars committee as quickly as possible and hope it makes it by the deadline next week,” Goldman said after being asked about the bill’s outlook after the point of order ruling.
Tinderholt, now in his fifth term and a Tea Party stalwart, is known for bucking the leadership and established tradition, mostly notably by running against current Republican speaker Dade Phelan on the opening day of the session, a move that got him only three votes. He also drew attention early in the session by fighting against the decades-long practice of allowing Democrats to chair committees in the Republican-led House.
The head of a major Texas film industry advocacy organization expressed disapproval of Tinderholt‘s action, saying it denied House members the opportunity to discuss the merits of the industry’s billions of dollars of economic benefits to the state.
“I just think it was an unfortunate decision,” Paul Jensen, executive director of the Texas Media Production Alliance, said of Tinderholt’s move that blocked debate of the bill. “The projects have significant economic impact in communities all across Texas and it’s discouraging that Representative Tinderholt is preventing a discussion of the merits of that program in the House.”
A film institute at Fort Worth A&M’s campus?
HB 4419 creates a Film Events Trust Fund and a Film Events Rebate Fund modeled after the state’s Major Events Trusts Fund that has been used to land big ticket events such as major conventions and international sports competitions.
The Arlington-hosted Super Bowl XLV in 2011 received more than $26 million from the fund, according to the Texas Tribune.
The bill also would create a virtual film production institute at Texas A&M University and Texas State University for students interested in pursuing careers in virtual production. The A&M and Texas State campuses at College Station and San Marcos have well-established film programs, but A&M System Vice Chancellor Laylan Copeland told the Fort Worth Report that it’s possible that the film institute could be located at the $350 million A&M campus planned for downtown Fort Worth.