AUSTIN – Fort Worth-backed legislation to expand the region’s film industry headed to the Texas Senate on Monday after securing final passage in the House on a vote of 121-21.

House Republican leader Craig Goldman of Fort Worth told House members the bill would “provide hundreds of  thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in revenue to the state.”

Lawmakers then voted without debate to give swift approval.  

Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker, who swept to reelection on Saturday, has designated House Bill 4419 as a top legislative priority that would further boost movie and television production in both Fort Worth and Texas. 

All but one of the 11 Tarrant County House members supported the measure, with Republican Tony Tinderholt of Arlington casting the lone dissenting vote. Six Republicans joined all four Tarrant Democrats in voting to advance the bill to the Senate.

Goldman, who chairs the House Republican Caucus, said afterward that he would work later in the day  to line up a Senate sponsor in his bid to get approval by the full Legislature before the May 29 adjournment.  

Tinderholt, as expected, voted against HB 4419 after making two earlier attempts to scuttle the measure on points of order. He made no further parliamentary moves against the bill on Monday other than voting against it.

Tinderholt later told the Fort Worth Report that, despite his efforts against the measure,  “I have every intention of congratulating my peer on passing a bill that I disagree with. I don’t like the policy. But he worked really hard and he ended up passing it and I intend to congratulate him on him on passing that bill.

“We should have a an attitude of being colleagues and respectful of one another. And I’m trying to maintain that at all time.”

His opposition to the bill, he said, was rooted in his fundamental view that the film program was a misuse of “people’s tax dollars.”

Tinderholt’s first point of order on May 3 was upheld by parliamentarians, sending the measure back to committee and spreading anxiety among supporters in the waning days of the Legislature. But Goldman corrected the bill and rushed it through two committees to win a preliminary vote by the House on Saturday. Another Tinderholt point of order on Saturday was overruled. 

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 a branch of the institute could ultimately be located at the $350 million A&M campus planned for downtown Fort Worth.

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.

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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...