Lawmakers hear from public about bills to tackle street takeovers, eliminate film tax credit

Back • Publication Date: March 20, 2024 • Fiscal & Economics

A range of bills was discussed at the public hearing, from cracking down on street takeovers to possibly eliminating the state’s film tax credit.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Lawmakers at the State Capitol heard from the public Wednesday about a range of bills on issues including street takeovers and possibly eliminating the state’s film tax credit.

“We want people to obey the law, the intention is for people to obey the law,” said New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker.

City officials want the state to crack down on the rise of dangerous street takeovers.

“As we work in New Haven and cities and towns across the state to confront this issue, we’ve realized that there are some other challenges,” Elicker said.

Police said they have seen more illegal dirt bikes and ATVs on the streets and the legislature is now considering a new bill to give towns and cities more resources to prevent these takeovers.

“We want these tools, as many tools as possible, to get across the finish line here,” added Elicker during his testimony.

The proposal would increase fines and license suspensions for those caught and allow municipalities to destroy the dirt bikes and ATVs they seize.

“The current legislation doesn’t allow us to destroy the vehicles, it only allows us to auction them off, and we do not want to auction them off, because then they’ll just cycle back into the community,” Elicker explained. “We have around 125 in storage right now and we’d like to destroy those vehicles.”

The bill would also provide grant funding for regional collaboration.

“We’ve been working really well with a lot of our partnering towns to increase our resources to respond to these incidents that happen, not just in one municipality, but often these rides will go across many municipalities, and we’d love to see the state help support those regional efforts by providing some funding,” said Elicker.

Some lawmakers had concerns with the section of the bill relating to license suspension for those caught even as a spectator of a street takeover, but there still seemed to be broad interest in advancing the measure Wednesday afternoon.

While local leaders pushed for new resources to tackle street takeovers, another bill up for public hearing proposed eliminating Connecticut’s film production tax credit.

“Frankly, it scares everyone,” said Jonathan Black, co-owner of Chair 10 Productions.

People from the state’s film and television industry gathered to oppose the bill.

“People don’t really know about the Connecticut tax credit, but as soon as they hear about it, they’re interested, they want to come here, they want to shoot here, we have a lot of great locations,” testified Lauren Black, co-owner of Chair 10 Productions.

Black and her husband said even though the industry struggled – from the pandemic to recent strikes – filming brings tourism and jobs to Connecticut.

“We have to have these tax incentives to keep these businesses here and to encourage them to invest more in the state,” she continued. “If there is no reason for them to be here, I don’t think they’re going to stay.”

Those in favor of the bill argue this credit loses the state money.

“According to data on the tax credits from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Connecticut lost in net state revenue an average of more than 60 million a year, and a total of nearly 900 million from 2007 to 2023,” said Nick Teeling, advocacy deputy director at CT Voices for Children.

He claimed that without the credits, the production industry in Connecticut would sink.

“The primary argument for maintaining these tax credits is essentially that the industry is going to collapse without them, but from a public policy perspective, that’s really an argument for eliminating them,” added Patrick O’Brien, CT Voices for Children’s research and policy director. “It just means you’re on a financial dead end, there is no point at which if you remove these, you’re going to have a self-sustaining industry.”

Workers believe that is why the credits are necessary, saying production companies will leave the state and new ones won’t come if the tax credit is scrapped.

“They’re going to go wherever they can get the most bang for their buck,” Black explained. “So we’re trying to keep them in Connecticut. If we eliminate this credit, then all of that work goes away. We don’t have a production services company anymore, because what are we servicing? No one’s going to come here.”

The film tax credit bill was raised with bipartisan support by Democrat and Republican leadership.

Lawmakers on the finance committee Wednesday said they want to try and balance growing the state’s production industry, while also making smart monetary decisions.

The committees will vote whether to advance the two bills in the coming weeks.

Emma Wulfhorst is a political reporter for FOX61 News. She can be reached at ewulfhorst@fox61.com. Follow her on FacebookX and Instagram.

Authors: Emma Wulfhorst •  Source: Fox 61 • View