As the 2017 Legislative Session comes to a close, we wanted to update everyone on the Film Florida legislative priorities. If you recall, prior to the start of the legislative session, Film Florida determined that the top priority was to fight the proposed tax increase on our industry, keep the Florida Office of Film and Entertainment open, and ensure the message that Florida is open for business and remains interested in recruiting films and television shows to our state is conveyed around the world. During the legislative session, another priority arose that we included in our efforts.
We are happy to announce that through the tremendous efforts of our entire organization, our government relations team and a number of honorable, dedicated legislators from both sides of the aisle, ALL of our legislative priorities were achieved!
- Preserve the Florida Office of Film & Entertainment (OFE), also known as the State Film Office: The OFE has been an integral part of diversifying Florida’s economy though economic development, tourism growth and job creation for 40+ years and we’re thrilled that the office has been preserved to continue serving the entire state, including our industry. Goal Achieved!
- Maintain the Entertainment Industry Sales Tax Exemption: This is a program thousands of Florida-based companies have benefited from since 2001, most of which are small businesses. Eliminating this program would have constituted a tax increase on businesses in our industry. Businesses will continue to benefit from this program in Florida. Goal Achieved!
- Reinstate funding for Los Angeles Liaison within the Florida Office of Film & Entertainment: This is vital to maintaining Florida’s presence in the production industry, serving as a conduit between the OFE and producers and directors around the country. Over the past two years, this position has only been partially funded by the state and has been increased in this budget to a full-time equivalent employee and continue to signal to our peers that Florida is open for business. Goal Achieved!
- Talent Agency De-Regulation: This priority came about after session started. If passed, this would have allowed unqualified people to register as talent agencies. This aspect of a bill was removed, keeping talent agencies regulated and thus protecting the most vulnerable in our industry. Goal Achieved!
On a related note, we are both grateful and encouraged that the Legislature chose not to eliminate Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing agency. The state budget includes $25 million for promoting our state, which goes hand-in-hand with the mission of the our friends at OFE.
Your efforts were instrumental in the success achieved during the legislative session. The letter writing campaign that hundreds of you participated in went a long way in preserving the OFE and the sales tax exemption program. We also appreciate the tens of thousands of e-mails you sent through our Calls to Action the last couple months. Those e-mails sent a clear message that further harming of our industry would not go unnoticed.
We could not have achieved success this year without the tireless efforts of our Government Relations team of Slater Bayliss and Sarah Busk from The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners. Their strategy and tactics helped guide our efforts throughout the entire legislative process. We would not have had success without their leadership and we appreciate our partnership with them.
Finally, there are a number of leaders that continue to be committed, loyal and active supporters of our industry. Whether it was on the front lines or behind the scenes, none of this happens without their support of our industry. Most notably, we want to thank Senator Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater). Senator Latvala (picture right) has long been a fierce advocate for our industry and he proved both his skill and tenacity during session. We can’t thank Senator Latvala enough!
Film Florida is more prepared than ever to showcase the far reaching benefits our industry has on the state of Florida including creating jobs, spurring economic development and generating tourism. Despite challenges, Florida is open for business and competing for high wage jobs in the film, television and digital media industry and we plan on continuing to spread that message. We sincerely believe putting Floridians back to work at home, generating new revenues and increasing tourism is an important step toward growing and diversifying our economy. We will continue our mission of marketing the state of Florida for the film, television and digital media industry and we will need your continued help and engagement.
Thank you for your support, and we hope to see many of you at our upcoming Annual Meeting at the Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village in Destin, FL May 22 – 24, 2017 as we continue strategizing for the rest of 2017, 2018 and beyond.