AUSTIN – Fort Worth-backed legislation to expand the region’s film industry won preliminary passage in the Texas House on Saturday despite a second attempt by Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, to strike the bill down on a parliamentary move.

The House voted 110-23 to give initial approval to the bill after Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth, was able to resurrect it. The bill’s outlook was thrown into uncertainty on Wednesday after Tinderholt succeeded in temporarily derailing the measure  on a point of order.

But Goldman rushed to get House Bill 4419 pushed through two committees to get to Saturday’s House vote.

A final vote that would send House Bill 4419 to the Senate will come before House members on Monday.

House parliamentarians upheld Tinderholt’s initial point of order on Wednesday, but this time ruled against him when he lodged a different point of order Saturday, enabling Goldman to present it to House members and win approval in time to clear a looming deadline next week.

Goldman said he was not surprised by Tinderholt’s latest move against the bill.

“He obviously doesn’t like it even though his city, his county especially benefits financially from it tremendously,” said Goldman, who chairs the House Republican Caucus. “For whatever reason, he doesn’t like the policy.”  

Tinderholt was excused to leave the chamber shortly after the point of order, explaining in a text afterward he wanted to return to Tarrant County to be able to vote in Saturday’s municipal elections before polls closed at 7 p.m. He also suggested that his challenges of the film bill may not be over.  

“The possibility remains,” he texted.
HB 4419 creates two state funds to support the film industry, 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 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. A branch of the institute could ultimately be located at the $350 million A&M campus planned for downtown Fort Worth, according to a top A&M Systems official.

Another major goal for film industry proponents is to raise the amount of state-funded rebates to encourage film industry production in Texas from the current $45 million to as much as $200 million. The incentives are part of deliberations now underway as lawmakers try to hammer out a final state budget for the 2024-25 biennium but House and Senate negotiators are reportedly far apart in trying to settle on the amount for film rebates.

Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker has designated the film initiatives as a major legislative priority for Fort Worth as film and television production continues to become a growing element of the Fort Worth economy. 

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David Montgomery

David Montgomery is a longtime journalist who has served as an Austin Bureau chief for the Dallas Times Herald, Austin and Washington bureau chief for the Fort Worth Star Telegram, and Moscow bureau...