Local film production bill clears Senate panel

linda stewart
A new use for the tourism tax.

A Senate panel advanced a bill this week that would bolster local government efforts to promote film production.

SB 334, sponsored by Orlando Democratic Sen. Linda Stewart, would allow counties to use tourist development tax collections to fund programs designed to lure studios to the area to shoot movies and television shows.

Currently, state law allows counties to use tourism tax money — collected via fees tacked onto hotel stays — to purchase land or event venues, operate convention centers, fund beach improvements and other activities associated with tourism promotion.

Stewart’s bill would add another section to the rubric, allowing the funds to be used to “promote or incentivize film or television productions in this state.” The bill would require productions that receive tax dollars to give Florida a shout-out in the credits — “Created in Florida” or “Filmed in Florida” would suffice.

When the bill went before the Senate Community Affairs Committee on Monday it received a unanimous vote. Stewart celebrated the committee’s affirmative vote in a news release Wednesday.

“TDT is often used primarily for the promotion and advertisement of tourism to Florida. I wanted to give local Tourist Development Councils the option to use these dollars to promote film production here in the State. This would not be a new tax, but a tool that local communities could use to promote tourism through the big screen,” she said.

“Florida severely lags behind our neighboring states in film production and it’s proven that people are more likely to visit destinations featured in media productions. By opening up the use of TDT as a voluntary funding source to promote tourism through film we can book 220,000 more hotel rooms, hire 110,000 Floridian cast and crew members, and pump $1.3 billion back into our local economies,” she added.

The bill now moves to the Senate Finance and Tax Committee. The measure faces long odds in the 2020 Legislative Session as companion legislation has not been filed in the House.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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