Florida Senate - 2020 SB 530 By Senator Gruters 23-00204A-20 2020530__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to the entertainment industry; 3 creating the Film, Television, and Digital Media 4 Targeted Rebate Program within the Department of 5 Economic Opportunity under the supervision of the 6 Commissioner of Film and Entertainment; providing 7 purposes for the program; defining terms; requiring 8 that film, television, and digital media projects 9 being produced in this state meet specified criteria 10 for rebate eligibility; authorizing applicants to 11 receive rebates up to a specified amount, including 12 bonuses; requiring an applicant that receives funding 13 to make a good faith effort to use existing providers 14 of infrastructure or equipment in this state and to 15 employ residents of this state; requiring the 16 commissioner to set application windows for the 17 rebate; providing requirements for the department 18 relating to earmarking and setting aside rebate funds; 19 providing procedures and requirements for applicants 20 applying for the rebate; requiring the commissioner to 21 take specified action within a reasonable period of 22 time; requiring the Florida Film and Entertainment 23 Advisory Council to determine a score for each 24 qualified project using specified criteria; requiring 25 the commissioner to determine the priority order and 26 scoring system of the specified criteria with 27 assistance from the council and certain other persons; 28 requiring the council to use certain criteria; 29 requiring the commissioner to take certain actions 30 relating to the certification or rejection of 31 qualified projects in a timely manner; requiring the 32 department to earmark and set aside funding necessary 33 to fund the total maximum that may be awarded to the 34 certified projects, if funds are available; requiring 35 the commissioner to develop a process to verify the 36 actual qualified expenditures of a certified project 37 after the project’s work in this state is complete; 38 providing requirements for the verification process; 39 requiring that the rebate be issued within a 40 reasonable period of time upon approval of the final 41 rebate amount by the department; requiring that 42 unallocated rebate funds and rebate funds allocated 43 but not awarded during a fiscal year roll over to the 44 next fiscal year; requiring that certain marketing be 45 included with a project; requiring certified projects 46 to allow certain persons to visit the production site 47 upon request of the commissioner and after providing 48 the commissioner with reasonable notice; specifying 49 that the commissioner or his or her affiliate is not 50 required to visit the production site; requiring the 51 department to disqualify a project under certain 52 circumstances; providing for liability and imposing 53 civil penalties for an applicant that submits 54 fraudulent information; providing for rulemaking; 55 requiring the commissioner to provide an annual report 56 to the Governor and the Legislature on a specified 57 date; providing for the expiration of the program; 58 providing an effective date. 59 60 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 61 62 Section 1. Film, Television, and Digital Media Targeted 63 Rebate Program.— 64 (1) CREATION AND PURPOSES OF PROGRAM.—The Film, Television, 65 and Digital Media Targeted Rebate Program is created within the 66 Department of Economic Opportunity under the supervision of the 67 Commissioner of Film and Entertainment. 68 (a) The purpose of the program is to boost this state’s 69 economic prosperity by: 70 1. Creating high-paying jobs; 71 2. Broadening the film, television, and digital media 72 industry’s impact on the state by giving a modest bonus for 73 projects that take place in underutilized areas; 74 3. Enhancing tourism by choosing projects that encourage 75 tourists to visit this state; and 76 4. Encouraging more family-friendly productions to be 77 produced in this state. 78 (b) This purpose shall be accomplished by providing a 79 limited rebate to projects that provide the highest return on 80 investment and economic benefit to the state, as determined 81 after a project has made its expenditures in the state. 82 (2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this act, unless the context 83 otherwise requires, the term: 84 (a) “Certified project” means a qualified project that has 85 been scored by the council, has been determined by the 86 commissioner to meet or exceed the desired economic impact and 87 other criteria of the program, and has rebate funds allocated to 88 it based on the project’s estimated qualified expenditures. 89 (b) “Commissioner” means the Commissioner of Film and 90 Entertainment as described in s. 288.1251(1)(b), Florida 91 Statutes. 92 (c) “Council” means the Florida Film and Entertainment 93 Advisory Council. 94 (d) “Department” means the Department of Economic 95 Opportunity. 96 (e) “Digital media project” means a commercial video game, 97 including an educational video game, which includes at least 30 98 minutes of game play time. The term does not include a project 99 that may be considered obscene, as defined in s. 847.001, 100 Florida Statutes. 101 (f) “Family friendly” means having cross-generational 102 appeal; being appropriate in theme, content, and language for a 103 broad family audience; embodying a responsible resolution of 104 issues; not containing any act of drunkenness, illicit drug use, 105 sex, nudity, gratuitous violence, or vulgar or profane language; 106 and not portraying smoking any substance in a positive light. 107 (g) “Film project” means a theatrical, direct-to-video, 108 television, cable, Internet, streaming service, or animated 109 narrative motion picture at least 75 minutes in length. The term 110 does not include a project deemed by the office to have content 111 that is obscene, as defined in s. 847.001, Florida Statutes. 112 (h) “Florida resident” means a person who has a valid 113 Florida driver license or Florida identification card issued 114 under s. 322.051, Florida Statutes, and has signed an affidavit 115 confirming residency. 116 (i) “Office” means the Office of Film and Entertainment 117 within the department. 118 (j) “Principal photography” means, for a film project or 119 television project, the filming of major or significant 120 components of the project which involve lead actors, or, for a 121 digital media project, the period of time during which the work 122 of the majority of the crew is dedicated solely to the project. 123 (k) “Production start date” means: 124 1. For film and television projects, the start date of 125 principal photography, as listed in the project’s application. 126 2. For digital media projects, the start date of final 127 storyboards or a later date as specified in the project’s 128 application. 129 (l)1. “Qualified expenditures” means expenditures made in 130 this state and paid to residents of this state or to businesses 131 registered in this state and made solely for preproduction, 132 production, or postproduction of the qualified project, 133 including the following: 134 a. Rented or leased goods or services provided by a vendor 135 or supplier in this state which is registered with the 136 Department of State or the Department of Revenue; which has a 137 physical address in this state other than a post office box; and 138 which employs one or more Florida residents on a full-time 139 basis. The term does not include rebilled goods or services 140 provided by an in-state company from out-of-state vendors or 141 suppliers. When services provided by the vendor or supplier 142 include personal services or labor, only personal services or 143 labor provided by Florida residents qualifies. 144 b. Payments to Florida residents in the form of salary or 145 wages up to a maximum of $200,000 per resident, including 146 amounts paid per diem to a worker who is a Florida resident and 147 amounts paid through payroll service companies, and benefits 148 such as pension, health, and welfare payments for technical and 149 production crews, directors, producers, and performers. For 150 purposes of this sub-subparagraph, payments do not include wages 151 for executives, legal staff, or other corporate staff who are 152 not employed to work solely on the project. 153 c. Rented or leased cars, trucks, and trailers if the 154 vehicles or trailers are registered with the Florida Department 155 of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. 156 d. Purchases of catered meals and on-set craft service 157 supplies. 158 e. Rented hotel rooms or other accommodations for cast or 159 crew. 160 2. The term does not include expenditures not expressly 161 identified in subparagraph 1., expenditures made before 162 qualification for the program, expenditures made via Internet 163 transactions, expenditures for airfare, or any costs associated 164 with development, marketing, or distribution. 165 3. For the purposes of a digital media project, the term 166 includes only those qualified expenditures made within 9 months 167 after the project’s first qualified expenditure. 168 (m) “Qualified project” means a film project, television 169 project, or digital media project that meets the application 170 requirements and for which a complete application for the 171 program has been submitted to the commissioner and accepted for 172 consideration by the office. The term does not include a weather 173 or market program; a sporting event or a sporting event 174 broadcast; a gala; an awards show; a production that solicits 175 funds; a home shopping program; a political program; a gambling 176 related project or production; a concert production; a news or 177 current events show; a sports or sports recap show; a 178 pornographic production; or any production deemed obscene under 179 chapter 847, Florida Statutes. 180 (n) “Television project” means a television pilot program 181 or a television series that: 182 1. Is a scripted drama, comedy, animation, or reality show; 183 2. Has a runtime of at least 30 minutes but not more than 184 60 minutes; and 185 3. If the television project is a television series, has a 186 minimum of 7 episodes; or, if the television project is a 187 reality program or series, at least 10 episodes. 188 189 The term does not include a project deemed by the office to have 190 content that is obscene, as defined in s. 847.001, Florida 191 Statutes. 192 (o) “Underutilized area” means any county in this state 193 other than Broward County, Miami-Dade County, Orange County, or 194 Seminole County. 195 (3) REBATE ELIGIBILITY.— 196 (a) To be eligible for a rebate, an applicant must be 197 registered to do business in this state and must be producing a 198 project that: 199 1. Has projected qualified expenditures of: 200 a. For a film project, at least $1.5 million; 201 b. For a television series, at least $500,000 per episode; 202 or 203 c. For a digital media project, at least $1.5 million; 204 2. Is projected to employ a crew, including cast and stand 205 ins, but not including extras, also known as background 206 performers, of which at least 60 percent will be residents of 207 this state and at least one member will be a military veteran; 208 3. Is projected to spend at least 70 percent of its total 209 production days in this state; and 210 4. Will not receive a sales tax certificate of exemption 211 pursuant to s. 288.1258, Florida Statutes, for the project. 212 (b) A project may receive a rebate in the amount of up to 213 20 percent of its verified qualified expenditures. A bonus may 214 be earned in the amount of an additional 3 percentage points if 215 75 percent of the project’s production in this state will take 216 place in an underutilized area or if its content is deemed 217 family friendly. A certified project may not receive more than 218 one bonus, and the total that may be awarded under any rebate 219 may not exceed 23 percent of its verified qualified expenditures 220 or $2 million, whichever is less. 221 (c) A certified project must make a good faith effort to 222 use existing providers of infrastructure or equipment in this 223 state, when available, including providers of camera gear, grip 224 and lighting equipment, vehicles, and postproduction services, 225 and to employ cast and crew who are residents of this state. 226 (4) APPLICATION WINDOWS.—Applications must be accepted for 227 the program during two application windows each fiscal year. The 228 commissioner shall set a start date for both application 229 windows. However, the first application window may begin before 230 the start of the fiscal year and must end no later than 5 231 business days after July 1, and the second must end no later 232 than 5 business days after December 1. 233 (a) The department may not earmark or set aside more than 234 60 percent of any appropriated or rolled-over rebate funds for 235 any given fiscal year for applications submitted during the 236 first application window. Rebate funds not earmarked and set 237 aside for applicants applying during one application window roll 238 over for use in the next application window. 239 (b) If all rebate funds are earmarked and set aside for 240 certified projects, additional applications may not be accepted 241 until more funds become available for the program. 242 (5) APPLICATION PROCESS.— 243 (a) A company that plans to produce a film, television, or 244 digital project in this state may submit an application to the 245 commissioner during one of the two application windows. Each 246 fiscal year, a project must have a production start date that is 247 within 6 months after July 1 if applying in the first window or 248 within 6 months after January 1 if applying in the second 249 window. 250 (b) An applicant or its parent company may submit an 251 application for no more than five projects in any single fiscal 252 year. However, except in the case of a TV pilot and the 253 television series the pilot is based on being certified within 254 the same fiscal year, only one project per applicant may be 255 certified within a fiscal year. 256 (c) The application must include: 257 1. Proof of funding; 258 2. Project-related employment information, including 259 employment numbers for residents of this state; 260 3. A full line-item budget and a detailed qualified 261 expenditures budget; 262 4. A detailed distribution plan to assist with determining 263 the potential economic impact of the project in this state; 264 5. The applicant’s expected total qualified expenditures 265 for wages paid to residents of this state; 266 6. The applicant’s expected total qualified expenditures 267 and nonqualified expenditures in this state; 268 7. For a film project, the latest script, a production 269 schedule, a Day Out of Days report, and a list of the expected 270 shooting locations; 271 8. For a digital media project, a detailed game design 272 document, including a production schedule; 273 9. An affirmation signed by the applicant that the 274 information on the application is correct; and 275 10. The applicant’s Florida tax identification number. 276 (d) Within a reasonable period of time after the last 277 business day of each application window, the commissioner shall: 278 1. Review all applications submitted during the application 279 window and determine the eligibility of each applicant; 280 2. Determine each applicant’s expected qualified 281 expenditures; 282 3. Determine the maximum rebate amount that each eligible 283 applicant may be awarded; 284 4. Determine whether an eligible applicant’s project is 285 deemed family friendly; 286 5. Determine the percentage of the applicant’s production, 287 if any, which is proposed to occur in an underutilized area; 288 6. Determine whether each eligible applicant is a 289 corporation registered in this state; 290 7. Contact each applicant with any questions, as necessary; 291 8. Gather any additional information needed to address the 292 criteria specified under subsection (6); 293 9. Assemble a package containing the details of each 294 eligible applicant’s project and deliver it to each council 295 member; and 296 10. Give notice to the council of the date and time when 297 the council must convene to assess each qualified project. The 298 council may meet in person or by conference call. 299 (e) The council shall determine a score for each qualified 300 project using the criteria specified under subsection (6), with 301 the highest scores going to projects determined to provide the 302 best economic impact and return on investment to this state. 303 (6) CRITERIA FOR DETERMINING PROJECT SCORES.— 304 (a) The priority order and scoring system of the criteria 305 specified in paragraph (b) must be determined by the 306 commissioner, with assistance from the council and other 307 persons, as determined by the commissioner, before the first 308 application window. 309 (b) The council shall use, at a minimum, the following 310 criteria in determining a qualified project’s score: 311 1. The amount of the project’s overall qualified 312 expenditures. 313 2. The amount of the project’s Florida-resident wages. 314 3. The number of full-time-equivalent jobs created by the 315 project. 316 4. Whether the project provides pension, health, and 317 welfare benefits to its workforce in this state. 318 5. The estimated direct and indirect tourism benefit of the 319 project, based on the submitted distribution plan. 320 6. The duration of Florida-resident employment for the 321 project. 322 7. What percentage of the project, if any, is being made in 323 an underutilized area. 324 8. Whether the project is family friendly. 325 9. Whether the project has a Florida-resident writer, 326 producer, or star. 327 10. Whether a Florida film, television, or digital media 328 school will assist with the production of the project. 329 11. Whether the project leadership team has a successful 330 track record. 331 12. The number of Florida-resident veterans the project 332 will hire. 333 13. The number of Florida film school graduates the project 334 will hire as cast or crew. 335 (7) NOTIFICATION OF DECISION.— 336 (a) After the council determines a project’s score, the 337 commissioner shall, in a timely manner: 338 1. Make a final determination on certifying or rejecting 339 each qualified project, giving consideration to the council’s 340 scoring. 341 2. Provide a list of certified projects to the department 342 which includes the associated maximum rebate amounts that the 343 respective applicants may receive. 344 3. Notify each certified project of the specified 345 percentage of qualified expenditures for which it is eligible 346 and the maximum rebate amount that it may receive. 347 4. Provide a notice of rejection to each rejected 348 applicant; however, the failure to notify an applicant of its 349 rejection does not deem the applicant’s project a certified 350 project. 351 (b) Based on the final determination of the commissioner, 352 the department shall earmark and set aside the amount necessary 353 to fund the total maximum that may be awarded for the certified 354 projects, if funds are available. 355 (8)(a) VERIFICATION PROCESS.—The commissioner shall develop 356 a process to verify the actual qualified expenditures of a 357 certified project after the project’s work in this state is 358 complete. The process must require all of the following: 359 1. Submission to the commissioner of at least all of the 360 following information, electronically or in hard copy, or both, 361 by each certified project: 362 a. Data substantiating each qualified expenditure, which 363 has been audited by an independent certified public accountant 364 licensed in this state, as required under subparagraph 4.; 365 b. Copies of documents verifying residency of persons 366 represented as being residents of this state; 367 c. The final script; 368 d. The most recent production board and shooting schedule; 369 e. The most recent credit list showing where the credits 370 required under subsection (9) will appear; 371 f. A cast list and a final crew list with contact 372 information; 373 g. For any veterans employed by the project, a copy of at 374 least one of the veterans’ DD Form 214, as issued by the United 375 States Department of Defense, or another acceptable form of 376 identification as specified by the Department of Veterans’ 377 Affairs; and 378 h. Any other information determined necessary by the 379 commissioner. 380 2. Signing, and submission to the commissioner, by the lead 381 producer or studio executive in charge of the certified project, 382 of an affidavit or written declaration signed under the penalty 383 of perjury as specified in s. 92.525, Florida Statutes, stating 384 that all salaries, wages, and other compensation submitted as 385 qualified expenditures are in compliance with this section. 386 3. The information and affidavit required by subparagraphs 387 1. and 2. must be received by the commissioner within 120 days 388 after the certified project has made its last qualified 389 expenditure, but no later than 1 year after its production start 390 date. Pursuant to the rules adopted by the department, the 391 commissioner may, upon a showing of good cause, grant a one-time 392 extension of this deadline. 393 4. The conducting of a compliance audit, at the certified 394 project’s expense, by an independent certified public accountant 395 who is a resident of this state to substantiate the qualified 396 expenditures, and submission of a report of the audit findings, 397 including substantiating data, to the commissioner within a 398 reasonable period of time after the initial receipt of records 399 from the certified project. 400 (b) The commissioner shall review the report and data 401 submitted by the certified public accountant within a reasonable 402 period of time after receipt of the report and data and shall 403 report to the department the final verified amount of actual 404 qualified expenditures the certified project made and the amount 405 of the rebate due to the project. 406 (c) Upon approval by the department of the final rebate 407 amount, which may not exceed the maximum specified in the notice 408 provided under subparagraph (7)(a)3., the rebate must be issued 409 within a reasonable period of time. 410 (d) At the end of the fiscal year, rebate funds that are 411 not allocated to a certified project, and rebate funds allocated 412 but not awarded to a certified project, roll over to the next 413 fiscal year. 414 (9) MARKETING AND TOURISM REQUIREMENT.— 415 (a) The commissioner shall ensure, as a condition of 416 receiving a rebate under this section, that a certified project 417 include marketing promoting this state as a tourist destination 418 or film and entertainment production destination. At a minimum, 419 the marketing must include placement in the end credits of a 420 “Filmed in Florida” or “Produced in Florida” logo with size and 421 placement commensurate to other logos included in the end 422 credits or, if no logos are used, the statement “Filmed in 423 Florida” or “Produced in Florida” or a similar statement 424 approved by the commissioner and the logo of the local film 425 office, if applicable. A digital media project must also supply 426 a 5-second or longer animated logo with “Produced in Florida” or 427 other text, including the logo of the local digital media 428 office, if applicable, as preapproved by the commissioner, in a 429 manner easily seen by a consumer of the digital media project. 430 The commissioner shall provide the logos for the purposes 431 specified in this paragraph, not including the logo for a local 432 office, which must be provided by the applicable office. 433 (b) A certified project must allow the commissioner, or an 434 affiliate, and a minimum of two guests to visit the production 435 site upon the request of the commissioner. Upon such request, 436 the certified project must give the commissioner reasonable 437 notice of a visit date and time that is acceptable to the 438 production. The commissioner or an affiliate is not required to 439 make a visit to the set. 440 (c) A certified project must provide at least five 441 preapproved photos of the production to the commissioner and 442 grant the commissioner free use of the photos in promoting this 443 state as a film, television, or digital media production 444 location or tourist destination. 445 (10) DISQUALIFICATION.—The department shall disqualify a 446 certified project and may not issue a rebate to the project if 447 the project: 448 (a) Does not begin principal photography in this state 449 within the period beginning 30 days before and ending 90 days 450 after the project’s listed production start date. Pursuant to 451 department rule, the commissioner may, upon a showing of good 452 cause, grant a one-time extension of this deadline; 453 (b) Does not abide by the policies, procedures, deadlines, 454 or requirements of the application verification process; 455 (c) Does not notify the commissioner of any change in the 456 production start date before commencing production; 457 (d) Submits fraudulent information; or 458 (e) Uses the state sales tax exemption. 459 (11) FRAUD.—An applicant that submits fraudulent 460 information under this section is liable for reimbursement of 461 the reasonable costs and fees associated with the review, 462 processing, investigation, and prosecution of the fraudulent 463 submission. An applicant that obtains a rebate under this 464 section through a claim that is fraudulent shall reimburse the 465 program for the rebate awarded and reasonable costs and fees 466 associated with the review, processing, investigation, and 467 prosecution of the fraudulent claim and shall pay a civil 468 penalty in an amount equal to double the rebate amount and any 469 criminal penalty to which the applicant may be subject. 470 (12) RULES; POLICIES; PROCEDURES.—The commissioner may 471 adopt rules and shall develop policies and procedures to 472 administer this section, including, but not limited to, rules 473 specifying requirements for the application and approval process 474 and the determination of qualified expenditures. 475 (13) ANNUAL REPORT.—Each November 1, the commissioner shall 476 provide an annual report on the program for the previous fiscal 477 year to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the 478 Speaker of the House of Representatives. The report must 479 identify the return on investment associated with, and economic 480 benefits to this state attributable to, the program. 481 (14) EXPIRATION.—The Film, Television, and Digital Media 482 Targeted Rebate Program expires June 30, 2023, at which point 483 all remaining appropriated funds not earmarked and set aside for 484 certified projects must revert to the General Revenue Fund. All 485 remaining appropriated funds must revert to the General Revenue 486 Fund no later than October 31, 2024. 487 Section 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.