by Marc Comstock
SAG-AFTRA New Mexico Local Board Member
When we think of the “biz” side of showbiz, our checklist usually lists things like contracts, headshots and classes. Rarely do we think of legislation, but it is something that can have a drastic effect on our wages and opportunities.
Neither New Mexico’s economy nor its booming film industry are immune to these things. Recently, two bills came up during the legislative session that really needed our attention.
First was House Bill 192, which was intended to increase the film incentive rebate cap annually based on the current consumer price index. This would have allowed increases to occur naturally given current market strength, so if the cap went up, more productions would come because there is more cap room to accommodate them.
This bill was film-friendly and its introduction coincided with the Film & Media Day. It was easy for the local film industry to voice their support for the bill and to thank the legislators who were in favor of it. While the bill was tabled, the industry’s support had a positive impact on the authors of the bill and all signs point to similar bills being brought forth in the future.
Things were a little bit different on Saturday, Feb. 25, when the New Mexico House Labor and Economic Development Committee met to discuss the so-called “right-to-work” bill HB 432. Gov. Susana Martinez had promised to sign the bill if it made it to her desk. It didn’t.
The defeat of this bill was due in part to the large number of union workers who showed up from around the state. In fact, so many people came to voice their opposition that the hearing had to be moved into the chamber itself.
It wasn’t just union members from SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and the New Mexico State Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, who stood up and made their voices heard, it was elevator workers, sheet metal workers and a handful of other unions that knew this bill was not good for the workers of New Mexico.
Union members spoke to the chamber not only about the benefits of being in a union but also how it had impacted their lives for the better. There were a handful of workers who had come from “right-to-work” states and talked about how they saw a decrease in wages and an increase in job duties.
When it came time for the chamber to vote, the bill was tabled indefinitely by a 6-5 vote.
So the next time you are thinking about the “biz” side of showbiz, be sure to add current legislation to your checklist.
New Mexico Local members attend the so-called "right-to-work" hearing at the Roundhouse. From left, Paul Blott, Marc Comstock, Cliff Gravel and Mel MacKaron.