Originally posted on the Herald Tribune Politics website from Jeremy Wallace:

A bill to make Florida more competitive with other states in attracting film making and television programs to the state easily sailed through its first committee in the Florida Senate on Tuesday.

Currently Florida’s film incentive program is completely out of money and has no way of luring the growing, high pay industry to the state, said State Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice. The state set aside $296 million that was supposed to last for six years through 2016. However, because of how the money was award, all of that money is already gone, leaving the state with nothing to lure new productions.

“We’re totally non-competitive with other states,” said Detert, who is the sponsor Senate Bill 1046.

Detert said rather than just throwing more money at the industry, the bill aims to reform how the tax credits are handed out so it lasts for years and includes more projects in under-utilized areas of the state, like Florida’s west coast.

“We will get more bang for fewer bucks,” Detert told the Florida Senate’s Commerce and Tourism Committee, of which she is the chairwoman.

How much will be designated for the program has not been determined yet.

The state’s Office of Film and Entertainment, which administers the current tax credit program, says over the first 4 years, 342 projects have qualified for tax credits, which has led to $1.5 billion spent in Florida and nearly 172,000 jobs.

Those projects have included 74 motion pictures, 59 digital media productions, 55 television commercials and 154 television productions, television series pilots, telenovelas and award shows.

Detert said the program is about creating jobs in an industry in which Florida is producing a lot of skilled graduates. During the hearing, she specifically cited colleges like Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, the University of Central Florida and Florida State University as places with film and art programs that are supplying graduates to the entertainment industry.

“It’s a good time for Florida to recruit this industry,” Detert said.

Detert’s bill passed 6-0 in the Commerce Committee. The only opposition to the bill during the meeting came in public testimony from the Americans For Prosperity’s Florida chapter. The Virginia-based group argued that government should not be in the business of giving tax credits to any industry, and should instead improve the tax climate for all of Florida businesses.

A dozen other groups publicly supported the bill, including the Walt Disney World, Associated Industries of Florida, Electronic Arts, Motion Picture Association of America and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Detert’s bill still has two more committee stops in the Senate before the full Florida Senate would have a chance to weigh in on the issue. The bill has not cleared any committees in the Florida House yet.

For a bill to have a chance to become law, it must pass the full Senate and full House by then end of the 60-day legislative session, which runs through May 1.

Click HERE to read the article on the HT Politics website.