On Monday March 20th, Film Florida held our Quarterly Board of Directors Meeting in Tallahassee. The meeting was very productive and being in Tallahassee during the legislative session, the meeting had a heavy legislative undertone.
As everyone is aware, the Florida House continues to pursue HB 7005 that would, among other agencies, close the Florida Office of Film and Entertainment (the State Film Office), the office that has been in existence for more than 40 years. This bill would also end the Entertainment Industry Sales Tax Exemption program, a program thousands of Florida-based companies have benefited from since 2001, most of which are small businesses.
As we have previously communicated, because of HB 7005, this year Film Florida is not pursuing a traditional incentive bill with the state legislature. We have determined that the top priority is 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 film, television, and digital media projects to our state is conveyed around the world. We are in daily communication with legislators and our government relations team in Tallahassee to ensure our priorities are being heard and addressed.
Following our Board of Directors meeting on Monday March 20th, a group of 9 Board Members spent Tuesday March 21st at the Capitol meeting with 10+ legislators, further communicating the organization’s top priorities for this year’s legislative session. Among others, we met with Senator Jack Latvala (R-Pinellas/Pasco Counties), Senator Jeff Brandes (R-Pinellas County), Representative Lori Berman (D-Palm Beach County), Representative Mike Miller (R-Orange County), Representative Joe Gruters (R-Manatee/Sarasota Counties), and members of the Governor’s Office. Each meeting was facilitated by our government relations team.
In addition to the meetings, we hand-delivered the hundreds of letters that we received for Senator Latvala and Governor Scott. As we watched Senator Latvala and members of the Governor’s team read some of the letters that we delivered, it was apparent they were engaged and they understood the urgency of the personal stories. We sincerely appreciate every single person that submitted a letter, and know that the letters had an immediate impact.
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. We will continue fighting for our industry but we still need your support. Whether it’s calls to action on social media or letters to legislators, as you demonstrated so well the last two weeks, we need you to remain engaged and active when called upon. There’s no doubt your letters to Senator Latvala and the Governor were impactful and we will continue to need your help in the coming weeks.