Dem thinks DC ought to be in (more) pictures

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) has introduced legislation aimed at making it easier to film movies and TV shows on Capitol grounds.

The bill raises the prospect that political shows like House of Cards, which mostly films in Baltimore, might make the trek down to Washington to shoot more scenes.

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Norton's bill, H.R. 4243, would give the Capitol Police discretion to issue permits to allow commercial filming on the grounds of the Capitol, including House and Senate office buildings. The Capitol Police currently does not issue any permits for any film projects.

Under current law, commercial filming around the Capitol is confined to Union Square, the area west of the Capitol bordered by 3rd Street and the Grant Memorial. But Norton says there is no good reason to limit filming to that area.

"No policy or security reason exists to justify the limit of commercial filming and photography of the Capitol complex to only one location, Union Square, particularly considering that permits are necessary," she said this week. "Limiting commercial filming and photography of the Capitol, an important vehicle for telling the nation's story, does not serve the American people."

In 2011, authority over Union Square was transferred to the National Park Service to the Architect of the Capitol. That move immediately created uncertainty about the ability to film in the square, since the Architect's office had no formal policy for filming.

Norton was able to codify new rules for filming in Union Square in the 2014 omnibus spending bill, and says her new legislation is aimed at expanding filming rights further.

"In today's world, where many societies are facing upheavals, our country, with an exemplary model of democracy, should be the first to encourage commercial photography and filming to record various scenes of the legislature, which symbolizes U.S. democracy at work," she said. "The time is overdue to allow to commercial filming and photography of the exterior of the historic 19th century Capitol building."

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