Florida Senate - 2020                              CS for SB 530
       By the Committee on Commerce and Tourism; and Senators Gruters,
       Flores, Farmer, Stewart, Rouson, Cruz, Berman, Harrell, Gibson,
       Bracy, Pizzo, Hooper, and Torres
       577-02022-20                                           2020530c1
    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 and rebate bonus
   37         eligibility of a certified project after the project’s
   38         work in this state is complete; providing requirements
   39         for the verification process; requiring that the
   40         rebate be issued within a reasonable period of time
   41         upon approval of the final rebate amount by the
   42         department; requiring that certain marketing be
   43         included with a project; requiring certified projects
   44         to allow certain persons to visit the production site
   45         upon request of the commissioner and after providing
   46         the commissioner with reasonable notice; specifying
   47         that the commissioner or his or her affiliate is not
   48         required to visit the production site; requiring the
   49         department to disqualify a project under certain
   50         circumstances; providing for liability and imposing
   51         civil penalties for an applicant that submits
   52         fraudulent information; providing for rulemaking;
   53         requiring the commissioner to provide an annual report
   54         to the Governor and the Legislature on a specified
   55         date; providing that certain appropriated funds are
   56         not subject to reversion; providing for the expiration
   57         of the program; providing an effective date.
   59  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   61         Section 1. Film, Television, and Digital Media Targeted
   62  Rebate Program.—
   63         (1) CREATION AND PURPOSES OF PROGRAM.—The Film, Television,
   64  and Digital Media Targeted Rebate Program is created within the
   65  Department of Economic Opportunity under the supervision of the
   66  Commissioner of Film and Entertainment.
   67         (a)The purpose of the program is to boost this state’s
   68  economic prosperity by:
   69         1.Creating high-paying jobs;
   70         2.Broadening the film, television, and digital media
   71  industry’s impact on the state by giving a modest bonus for
   72  projects that take place in underutilized areas;
   73         3.Enhancing tourism by choosing projects that encourage
   74  tourists to visit this state; and
   75         4.Encouraging more family-friendly productions to be
   76  produced in this state.
   77         (b)This purpose shall be accomplished by providing a
   78  limited rebate to projects that provide the highest return on
   79  investment and economic benefit to the state, as determined
   80  after a project has made its expenditures in the state.
   81         (2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this act, unless the context
   82  otherwise requires, the term:
   83         (a) “Certified project” means a qualified project that has
   84  been scored by the council, has been determined by the
   85  commissioner to meet or exceed the desired economic impact and
   86  other criteria of the program, and has rebate funds allocated to
   87  it based on the project’s estimated qualified expenditures.
   88         (b) “Commissioner” means the Commissioner of Film and
   89  Entertainment as described in s. 288.1251(1)(b), Florida
   90  Statutes.
   91         (c)“Council” means the Florida Film and Entertainment
   92  Advisory Council.
   93         (d) “Department” means the Department of Economic
   94  Opportunity.
   95         (e) “Digital media project” means a commercial video game,
   96  including an educational video game, which includes at least 30
   97  minutes of game play time. The term does not include a project
   98  that may be considered obscene, as defined in s. 847.001,
   99  Florida Statutes.
  100         (f) “Family friendly” means having cross-generational
  101  appeal; being appropriate in theme, content, and language for a
  102  broad family audience; embodying a responsible resolution of
  103  issues; not containing any act of drunkenness, illicit drug use,
  104  sex, nudity, gratuitous violence, or vulgar or profane language;
  105  and not portraying smoking any substance in a positive light.
  106         (g) “Film project” means a theatrical, direct-to-video,
  107  television, cable, Internet, streaming service, or animated
  108  narrative motion picture at least 75 minutes in length. The term
  109  does not include a project deemed by the office to have content
  110  that is obscene, as defined in s. 847.001, Florida Statutes.
  111         (h) “Florida resident” means a person who has a valid
  112  Florida driver license or Florida identification card issued
  113  under s. 322.051, Florida Statutes, and has signed an affidavit
  114  confirming residency.
  115         (i) “Office” means the Office of Film and Entertainment
  116  within the department.
  117         (j) “Principal photography” means, for a film project or
  118  television project, the filming of major or significant
  119  components of the project which involve lead actors, or, for a
  120  digital media project, the period of time during which the work
  121  of the majority of the crew is dedicated solely to the project.
  122         (k) “Production start date” means:
  123         1. For film and television projects, the start date of
  124  principal photography, as listed in the project’s application.
  125         2. For digital media projects, the start date of final
  126  storyboards or a later date as specified in the project’s
  127  application.
  128         (l)1. “Qualified expenditures” means expenditures made in
  129  this state and paid to residents of this state or to businesses
  130  registered in this state and made solely for preproduction,
  131  production, or postproduction of the qualified project,
  132  including the following:
  133         a. Rented or leased goods or services provided by a vendor
  134  or supplier in this state which is registered with the
  135  Department of State or the Department of Revenue; which has a
  136  physical address in this state other than a post office box; and
  137  which employs one or more Florida residents on a full-time
  138  basis. The term does not include rebilled goods or services
  139  provided by an in-state company from out-of-state vendors or
  140  suppliers. When services provided by the vendor or supplier
  141  include personal services or labor, only personal services or
  142  labor provided by Florida residents qualifies.
  143         b. Payments to Florida residents in the form of salary or
  144  wages up to a maximum of $200,000 per resident, including
  145  amounts paid per diem to a worker who is a Florida resident and
  146  amounts paid through payroll service companies, and benefits
  147  such as pension, health, and welfare payments for technical and
  148  production crews, directors, producers, and performers. For
  149  purposes of this sub-subparagraph, payments do not include wages
  150  for executives, legal staff, or other corporate staff who are
  151  not employed to work solely on the project.
  152         c.Rented or leased cars, trucks, and trailers if the
  153  vehicles or trailers are registered with the Florida Department
  154  of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
  155         d.Purchases of catered meals and on-set craft service
  156  supplies.
  157         e.Rented hotel rooms or other accommodations for cast or
  158  crew.
  159         2. The term does not include expenditures not expressly
  160  identified in subparagraph 1., expenditures made before
  161  qualification for the program, expenditures made via Internet
  162  transactions, expenditures for airfare, or any costs associated
  163  with development, marketing, or distribution.
  164         3.For the purposes of a digital media project, the term
  165  includes only those qualified expenditures made within 9 months
  166  after the project’s first qualified expenditure.
  167         (m) “Qualified project” means a film project, television
  168  project, or digital media project that meets the application
  169  requirements and for which a complete application for the
  170  program has been submitted to the commissioner and accepted for
  171  consideration by the office. The term does not include a weather
  172  or market program; a sporting event or a sporting event
  173  broadcast; a gala; an awards show; a production that solicits
  174  funds; a home shopping program; a political program; a gambling
  175  related project or production; a concert production; a news or
  176  current events show; a sports or sports recap show; a
  177  pornographic production; or any production deemed obscene under
  178  chapter 847, Florida Statutes.
  179         (n) “Television project” means a television pilot program
  180  or a television series that:
  181         1. Is a scripted drama, comedy, animation, or reality show;
  182         2. Has a runtime of at least 30 minutes but not more than
  183  60 minutes; and
  184         3. If the television project is a television series, has a
  185  minimum of 7 episodes; or, if the television project is a
  186  reality program or series, at least 10 episodes.
  188  The term does not include a project deemed by the office to have
  189  content that is obscene, as defined in s. 847.001, Florida
  190  Statutes.
  191         (o) “Underutilized area” means any county in this state
  192  other than Broward County, Miami-Dade County, Orange County, or
  193  Seminole County.
  194         (3) REBATE ELIGIBILITY.—
  195         (a) To be eligible for a rebate, an applicant must be
  196  registered to do business in this state and must be producing a
  197  project that:
  198         1. Has projected qualified expenditures of:
  199         a. For a film project, at least $1.5 million;
  200         b. For a television project, at least $500,000 per episode;
  201  or
  202         c. For a digital media project, at least $1.5 million;
  203         2. Is projected to employ a crew, including cast and stand
  204  ins, but not including extras, also known as background
  205  performers, of which at least 60 percent will be residents of
  206  this state and at least one member will be a military veteran;
  207         3. Is projected to spend at least 70 percent of its total
  208  production days in this state; and
  209         4. Will not receive a sales tax certificate of exemption
  210  pursuant to s. 288.1258, Florida Statutes, for the project.
  211         (b) A project may receive a rebate in the amount of up to
  212  20 percent of its verified qualified expenditures. A bonus may
  213  be earned in the amount of an additional 3 percentage points if
  214  75 percent of the project’s production in this state will take
  215  place in an underutilized area or if its content is deemed
  216  family friendly. A certified project may not receive more than
  217  one bonus, and the total that may be awarded under any rebate
  218  may not exceed 23 percent of its verified qualified expenditures
  219  or $2 million, whichever is less.
  220         (c) A certified project must make a good faith effort to
  221  use existing providers of infrastructure or equipment in this
  222  state, when available, including providers of camera gear, grip
  223  and lighting equipment, vehicles, and postproduction services,
  224  and to employ cast and crew who are residents of this state.
  225         (4)APPLICATION WINDOWS.—Applications must be accepted for
  226  the program during two application windows each fiscal year. The
  227  commissioner shall set a start date for both application
  228  windows. However, the first application window may begin before
  229  the start of the fiscal year and must end no later than 5
  230  business days after July 1, and the second must end no later
  231  than 5 business days after December 1.
  232         (a) The department may not earmark or set aside more than
  233  60 percent of any appropriated or rolled-over rebate funds for
  234  any given fiscal year for applications submitted during the
  235  first application window. Rebate funds not earmarked and set
  236  aside for applicants applying during one application window roll
  237  over for use in the next application window.
  238         (b) If all rebate funds are earmarked and set aside for
  239  certified projects, additional applications may not be accepted
  240  until more funds become available for the program.
  241         (5) APPLICATION PROCESS.—
  242         (a) A company that plans to produce a film, television, or
  243  digital project in this state may submit an application to the
  244  commissioner during one of the two application windows. Each
  245  fiscal year, a project must have a production start date that is
  246  within 6 months after July 1 if applying in the first window or
  247  within 6 months after January 1 if applying in the second
  248  window.
  249         (b)An applicant or its parent company may submit an
  250  application for no more than five projects in any single fiscal
  251  year. However, except in the case of a TV pilot and the
  252  television series the pilot is based on being certified within
  253  the same fiscal year, only one project per applicant may be
  254  certified within a fiscal year.
  255         (c) The application must include:
  256         1. Proof of funding;
  257         2. Project-related employment information, including
  258  employment numbers for residents of this state;
  259         3. A full line-item budget and a detailed qualified
  260  expenditures budget;
  261         4. A detailed distribution plan to assist with determining
  262  the potential economic impact of the project in this state;
  263         5. The applicant’s expected total qualified expenditures
  264  for wages paid to residents of this state;
  265         6. The applicant’s expected total qualified expenditures
  266  and nonqualified expenditures in this state;
  267         7. For a film project, the latest script, a production
  268  schedule, a Day Out of Days report, and a list of the expected
  269  shooting locations;
  270         8. For a digital media project, a detailed game design
  271  document, including a production schedule;
  272         9.For a television project that is a pilot, a final
  273  script, a production schedule, a Day Out of Days report, and a
  274  list of the expected shooting locations;
  275         10.For a television project that is a series, the latest
  276  scripts for at least two episodes and a production schedule, a
  277  Day Out of Days report, and a list of the expected shooting
  278  locations for the first episode;
  279         11. An affirmation signed by the applicant that the
  280  information on the application is correct;
  281         12. The applicant’s Florida tax identification number.
  282         (d)Within a reasonable period of time after the last
  283  business day of each application window, the commissioner shall:
  284         1. Review all applications submitted during the application
  285  window and determine the eligibility of each applicant;
  286         2. Determine each applicant’s expected qualified
  287  expenditures;
  288         3. Determine the maximum rebate amount that each eligible
  289  applicant may be awarded;
  290         4. Determine whether an eligible applicant’s project is
  291  deemed family friendly;
  292         5. Determine the percentage of the applicant’s production,
  293  if any, which is proposed to occur in an underutilized area;
  294         6. Determine whether each eligible applicant is a
  295  corporation registered in this state;
  296         7. Contact each applicant with any questions, as necessary;
  297         8. Gather any additional information needed to address the
  298  criteria specified under subsection (6);
  299         9. Assemble a package containing the details of each
  300  eligible applicant’s project and deliver it to each council
  301  member; and
  302         10. Give notice to the council of the date and time when
  303  the council must convene to assess each qualified project. The
  304  council may meet in person or by conference call.
  305         (e) The council shall determine a score for each qualified
  306  project using the criteria specified under subsection (6), with
  307  the highest scores going to projects determined to provide the
  308  best economic impact and return on investment to this state.
  310         (a)The priority order and scoring system of the criteria
  311  specified in paragraph (b) must be determined by the
  312  commissioner, with assistance from the council and other
  313  persons, as determined by the commissioner, before the first
  314  application window.
  315         (b)The council shall use, at a minimum, the following
  316  criteria in determining a qualified project’s score:
  317         1. The amount of the project’s overall qualified
  318  expenditures.
  319         2. The amount of the project’s Florida-resident wages.
  320         3. The number of full-time-equivalent jobs created by the
  321  project.
  322         4. Whether the project provides pension, health, and
  323  welfare benefits to its workforce in this state.
  324         5.The estimated direct and indirect tourism benefit of the
  325  project, based on the submitted distribution plan.
  326         6. The duration of Florida-resident employment for the
  327  project.
  328         7.What percentage of the project, if any, is being made in
  329  an underutilized area.
  330         8. Whether the project is family friendly.
  331         9. Whether the project has a Florida-resident writer,
  332  producer, or star.
  333         10. Whether a Florida film, television, or digital media
  334  school will assist with the production of the project.
  335         11. Whether the project leadership team has a successful
  336  track record.
  337         12. The number of Florida-resident veterans the project
  338  will hire.
  339         13. The number of Florida film school graduates the project
  340  will hire as cast or crew.
  341         (7) NOTIFICATION OF DECISION.—
  342         (a) After the council determines a project’s score, the
  343  commissioner shall, in a timely manner:
  344         1.Make a final determination on certifying or rejecting
  345  each qualified project, giving consideration to the council’s
  346  scoring.
  347         2.Provide a list of certified projects to the department
  348  which includes the associated maximum rebate amounts that the
  349  respective applicants may receive.
  350         3. Notify each certified project of the specified
  351  percentage of qualified expenditures for which it is eligible
  352  and the maximum rebate amount that it may receive.
  353         4. Provide a notice of rejection to each rejected
  354  applicant; however, the failure to notify an applicant of its
  355  rejection does not deem the applicant’s project a certified
  356  project.
  357         (b) Based on the final determination of the commissioner,
  358  the department shall earmark and set aside the amount necessary
  359  to fund the total maximum that may be awarded for the certified
  360  projects, if funds are available.
  361         (8)(a) VERIFICATION PROCESS.—The commissioner shall develop
  362  a process to verify the actual qualified expenditures and rebate
  363  bonus eligibility of a certified project after the project’s
  364  work in this state is complete. The process must require all of
  365  the following:
  366         1.Submission to the commissioner of at least all of the
  367  following information, electronically or in hard copy, or both,
  368  by each certified project:
  369         a. Data substantiating each qualified expenditure, which
  370  has been audited by an independent certified public accountant
  371  licensed in this state, as required under subparagraph 4.;
  372         b. Copies of documents verifying residency of persons
  373  represented as being residents of this state;
  374         c. The final script;
  375         d. The most recent production board and shooting schedule;
  376         e. The most recent credit list showing where the credits
  377  required under subsection (9) will appear;
  378         f.A cast list and a final crew list with contact
  379  information;
  380         g. For any veterans employed by the project, a copy of at
  381  least one of the veterans’ DD Form 214, as issued by the United
  382  States Department of Defense, or another acceptable form of
  383  identification as specified by the Department of Veterans’
  384  Affairs; and
  385         h.Any other information determined necessary by the
  386  commissioner.
  387         2.Signing, and submission to the commissioner, by the lead
  388  producer or studio executive in charge of the certified project,
  389  of an affidavit or written declaration signed under the penalty
  390  of perjury as specified in s. 92.525, Florida Statutes, stating
  391  that all salaries, wages, and other compensation submitted as
  392  qualified expenditures are in compliance with this section.
  393         3. The information and affidavit required by subparagraphs
  394  1. and 2. must be received by the commissioner within 120 days
  395  after the certified project has made its last qualified
  396  expenditure, but no later than 1 year after its production start
  397  date. Pursuant to the rules adopted by the department, the
  398  commissioner may, upon a showing of good cause, grant a one-time
  399  extension of this deadline.
  400         4. The conducting of a compliance audit, at the certified
  401  project’s expense, by an independent certified public accountant
  402  who is a resident of this state to substantiate the qualified
  403  expenditures, and submission of a report of the audit findings,
  404  including substantiating data, to the commissioner within a
  405  reasonable period of time after the initial receipt of records
  406  from the certified project.
  407         (b) The commissioner shall review the report and data
  408  required under paragraph (a) within a reasonable period of time
  409  after receipt of the report and data and shall report to the
  410  department the final verified amount of actual qualified
  411  expenditures the certified project made and the amount of the
  412  rebate, including any bonus, due to the project.
  413         (c) Upon approval by the department of the final rebate
  414  amount, which may not exceed the maximum specified in the notice
  415  provided under subparagraph (7)(a)3., the rebate must be issued
  416  within a reasonable period of time.
  418         (a) The commissioner shall ensure, as a condition of
  419  receiving a rebate under this section, that a certified project
  420  include marketing promoting this state as a tourist destination
  421  or film and entertainment production destination. At a minimum,
  422  the marketing must include placement in the end credits of a
  423  “Filmed in Florida” or “Produced in Florida” logo with size and
  424  placement commensurate to other logos included in the end
  425  credits or, if no logos are used, the statement “Filmed in
  426  Florida” or “Produced in Florida” or a similar statement
  427  approved by the commissioner and the logo of the local film
  428  office, if applicable. A digital media project must also supply
  429  a 5-second or longer animated logo with Produced in Florida” or
  430  other text, including the logo of the local digital media
  431  office, if applicable, as preapproved by the commissioner, in a
  432  manner easily seen by a consumer of the digital media project.
  433  The commissioner shall provide the logos for the purposes
  434  specified in this paragraph, not including the logo for a local
  435  office, which must be provided by the applicable office.
  436         (b) A certified project must allow the commissioner, or an
  437  affiliate, and a minimum of two guests to visit the production
  438  site upon the request of the commissioner. Upon such request,
  439  the certified project must give the commissioner reasonable
  440  notice of a visit date and time that is acceptable to the
  441  production. The commissioner or an affiliate is not required to
  442  make a visit to the set.
  443         (c)A certified project must provide at least five
  444  preapproved photos of the production to the commissioner and
  445  grant the commissioner free use of the photos in promoting this
  446  state as a film, television, or digital media production
  447  location or tourist destination.
  448         (10) DISQUALIFICATION.—The department shall disqualify a
  449  certified project and may not issue a rebate to the project if
  450  the project:
  451         (a) Does not begin principal photography in this state
  452  within the period beginning 30 days before and ending 90 days
  453  after the project’s listed production start date. Pursuant to
  454  department rule, the commissioner may, upon a showing of good
  455  cause, grant a one-time extension of this deadline;
  456         (b) Does not abide by the policies, procedures, deadlines,
  457  or requirements of the application verification process;
  458         (c) Does not notify the commissioner of any change in the
  459  production start date before commencing production;
  460         (d) Submits fraudulent information; or
  461         (e)Uses the state sales tax exemption established under s.
  462  288.1258, Florida Statutes.
  463         (11) FRAUD.—An applicant that submits fraudulent
  464  information under this section is liable for reimbursement of
  465  the reasonable costs and fees associated with the review,
  466  processing, investigation, and prosecution of the fraudulent
  467  submission. An applicant that obtains a rebate under this
  468  section through a claim that is fraudulent shall reimburse the
  469  program for the rebate awarded and reasonable costs and fees
  470  associated with the review, processing, investigation, and
  471  prosecution of the fraudulent claim and shall pay a civil
  472  penalty in an amount equal to double the rebate amount and any
  473  criminal penalty to which the applicant may be subject.
  474         (12) RULES; POLICIES; PROCEDURES.—The department may adopt
  475  rules and shall develop policies and procedures to administer
  476  this section, including, but not limited to, rules specifying
  477  requirements for the application and approval process and the
  478  determination of qualified expenditures.
  479         (13) ANNUAL REPORT.—Each November 1, the commissioner shall
  480  provide an annual report on the program for the previous fiscal
  481  year to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the
  482  Speaker of the House of Representatives. The report must
  483  identify the return on investment associated with, and economic
  484  benefits to this state attributable to, the program.
  485         (14)FUNDS NOT SUBJECT TO REVERSION.—Notwithstanding s.
  486  216.301, Florida Statutes, funds appropriated for this purpose
  487  shall not be subject to reversion.
  488         (15) EXPIRATION.—The Film, Television, and Digital Media
  489  Targeted Rebate Program expires June 30, 2023, at which point
  490  all remaining appropriated funds not earmarked and set aside for
  491  certified projects must revert to the General Revenue Fund. All
  492  remaining appropriated funds must revert to the General Revenue
  493  Fund no later than October 31, 2024.
  494         Section 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.