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Motion Picture Association Hires New Head of State Government Lobbying

Motion Picture Association Kathy Banuelos Vans
Courtesy of Motion Pictures Association

The Motion Picture Association announced Thursday it has hired Kathy Bañuelos to lead its lobbying efforts at state and local governments.

Bañuelos comes to the trade organization from NBCUniversal, where she was vice president of government affairs. She will take over for Vans Stevenson, who has overseen state government lobbying for the MPA since 1995.

In that period, Stevenson led the organization’s efforts in state capitols across the country to establish and expand tax incentives for film and TV production. Those efforts — meant to stem a tide of “runaway productions” that headed overseas in the late 1990s and early 2000s — have transformed domestic film financing, and reshaped the geographic distribution of production work.

The state of Georgia recently disclosed that it had awarded a record $1.2 billion last year through its 30% incentive, a policy that has transformed the state into a major production hub. New York and California have also enacted sizable tax incentives to keep pace with regional rivals, with each awarding $420 million in credits this year. More than 30 states now have some form of film incentive program.

Stevenson will remain at the MPA as a senior adviser.

Bañuelos’ title will be senior vice president, state government affairs. She will be based in Los Angeles, and will start work on March 21, reporting to Patrick Kilcur, the MPA’s executive vice president of U.S. government affairs.

“I am humbled and honored that the Motion Picture Association has chosen me to represent this iconic industry in state capitals and city halls across the country, and grateful to my colleagues at NBCUniversal for providing me so many opportunities over my eleven years of service with them,” Bañuelos said in a statement. “I look forward to working to make sure that governments at all levels understand our challenges and will work as partners to help this industry thrive. And I’m very grateful that Vans will continue working with our team as we build on his unrivaled track record of achievement over the past three decades.”

While state tax incentive programs are the centerpiece of the MPA’s state and local lobbying portfolio, Bañuelos will also represent the industry’s interests on permitting issues, land use, intellectual property and labor and employment policy.

Before joining NBCUniversal, Bañuelos was counsel to the California State Senate’s Judiciary Committee, and an employment attorney at Sheppard Mullin Richter and Hampton LLP in Los Angeles. She is a Los Angeles native, and attended Pomona College and Columbia University Law School.