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.
   60  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   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.
  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.
  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.
  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.