Florida Senate - 2021 SB 704 By Senator Gruters 23-00418B-21 2021704__ 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 and criminal penalties for an applicant that 52 submits fraudulent information; providing for 53 rulemaking; requiring the commissioner to provide an 54 annual report to the Governor and the Legislature on a 55 specified date; providing that certain appropriated 56 funds are not subject to reversion; providing for the 57 expiration of the program; providing an effective 58 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. Purchases of personal protective equipment from in-state 159 vendors or suppliers for use on set, in the production office, 160 or with other activities directly related to production, such as 161 providing off-set truck drivers with personal protective 162 equipment, in order to mitigate the transmission of viruses. 163 Such purchases are limited to items for personal use only, such 164 as masks, gloves, test kits, and hand sanitizer. 165 f. Rented hotel rooms or other accommodations for cast or 166 crew. 167 2. The term does not include expenditures not expressly 168 identified in subparagraph 1., expenditures made before 169 qualification for the program, expenditures made via Internet 170 transactions, expenditures for airfare, or any costs associated 171 with development, marketing, or distribution. 172 3. For the purposes of a digital media project, the term 173 includes only those qualified expenditures made within 9 months 174 after the project’s first qualified expenditure. 175 (m) “Qualified project” means a film project, television 176 project, or digital media project that meets the application 177 requirements and for which a complete application for the 178 program has been submitted to the commissioner and accepted for 179 consideration by the office. The term does not include a weather 180 or market program; a sporting event or a sporting event 181 broadcast; a gala; an awards show; a production that solicits 182 funds; a home shopping program; a political program; a gambling 183 related project or production; a concert production; a news or 184 current events show; a sports or sports recap show; a 185 pornographic production; or any production deemed obscene under 186 chapter 847, Florida Statutes. 187 (n) “Television project” means a television pilot program 188 or a television series that: 189 1. Is a scripted drama, comedy, animation, or reality show; 190 2. Has a runtime to fit, at minimum, a 30-minute program 191 slot, but no longer than required to fit a 60-minute program 192 slot; and 193 3. If the television project is a television series, has a 194 minimum of 7 episodes; or, if the television project is a 195 reality program or series, at least 10 episodes. 196 197 The term does not include a project deemed by the office to have 198 content that is obscene, as defined in s. 847.001, Florida 199 Statutes. 200 (o) “Underutilized area” means any county in this state 201 other than Broward County, Miami-Dade County, Orange County, or 202 Seminole County. 203 (3) REBATE ELIGIBILITY.— 204 (a) To be eligible for a rebate, an applicant must be 205 registered to do business in this state and must be producing a 206 project that: 207 1. Has projected qualified expenditures of: 208 a. For a film project, at least $1.5 million; 209 b. For a television project, at least $500,000 per episode; 210 or 211 c. For a digital media project, at least $1.5 million; 212 2. Is projected to employ a crew, including cast and stand 213 ins, but not including extras, also known as background 214 performers, of which at least 60 percent will be residents of 215 this state and at least one member will be a military veteran; 216 3. Is projected to spend at least 70 percent of its total 217 production days in this state; and 218 4. Will not receive a sales tax certificate of exemption 219 pursuant to s. 288.1258, Florida Statutes, for the project. 220 (b) A project may receive a rebate in the amount of up to 221 20 percent of its verified qualified expenditures. A bonus may 222 be earned in the amount of an additional 3 percentage points if 223 75 percent of the project’s production in this state will take 224 place in an underutilized area or if its content is deemed 225 family friendly. A certified project may not receive more than 226 one bonus, and the total that may be awarded under any rebate 227 may not exceed 23 percent of its verified qualified expenditures 228 or $2 million, whichever is less. 229 (c) A certified project must make a good faith effort to 230 use existing providers of infrastructure or equipment in this 231 state, when available, including providers of camera gear, grip 232 and lighting equipment, vehicles, and postproduction services, 233 and to employ cast and crew who are residents of this state. 234 (4) APPLICATION WINDOWS.—Applications must be accepted for 235 the program during two application windows each fiscal year. The 236 commissioner shall set a start date for both application 237 windows. However, the first application window may begin before 238 the start of the fiscal year and must end no later than 5 239 business days after July 1, and the second application window 240 must end no later than 5 business days after December 1. 241 (a) The department may not earmark or set aside more than 242 60 percent of any appropriated or rolled-over rebate funds for 243 any given fiscal year for applications submitted during the 244 first application window. Rebate funds not earmarked and set 245 aside for applicants applying during one application window roll 246 over for use in the next application window. 247 (b) If all rebate funds are earmarked and set aside for 248 certified projects, additional applications may not be accepted 249 until more funds become available for the program. 250 (5) APPLICATION PROCESS.— 251 (a) A company that plans to produce a film, television, or 252 digital project in this state may submit an application to the 253 commissioner during one of the two application windows. Each 254 fiscal year, a project must have a production start date that is 255 within 6 months after July 1 if applying in the first window or 256 within 6 months after January 1 if applying in the second 257 window. 258 (b) An applicant or its parent company may submit an 259 application for no more than five projects in any single fiscal 260 year. However, except in the case of a television pilot and the 261 television series the pilot is based on being certified within 262 the same fiscal year, only one project per applicant may be 263 certified within a fiscal year. 264 (c) The application must include: 265 1. Proof of funding; 266 2. Project-related employment information, including 267 employment numbers for residents of this state; 268 3. A full line-item budget and a detailed qualified 269 expenditures budget; 270 4. A detailed distribution plan to assist with determining 271 the potential economic impact of the project in this state; 272 5. The applicant’s expected total qualified expenditures 273 for wages paid to residents of this state; 274 6. The applicant’s expected total qualified expenditures 275 and nonqualified expenditures in this state; 276 7. For a film project, the latest script, a production 277 schedule, a Day Out of Days report, and a list of the expected 278 shooting locations; 279 8. For a digital media project, a detailed game design 280 document, including a production schedule; 281 9. For a television project that is a pilot, a final 282 script, a production schedule, a Day Out of Days report, and a 283 list of the expected shooting locations; 284 10. For a television project that is a series, the latest 285 scripts for at least two episodes and a production schedule, a 286 Day Out of Days report, and a list of the expected shooting 287 locations for the first episode; 288 11. An affirmation signed by the applicant that the 289 information on the application is correct; 290 12. The applicant’s Florida tax identification number. 291 (d) Within a reasonable period of time after the last 292 business day of each application window, the commissioner shall: 293 1. Review all applications submitted during the application 294 window and determine the eligibility of each applicant; 295 2. Determine each applicant’s expected qualified 296 expenditures; 297 3. Determine the maximum rebate amount that each eligible 298 applicant may be awarded; 299 4. Determine whether an eligible applicant’s project is 300 deemed family friendly; 301 5. Determine the percentage of the applicant’s production, 302 if any, which is proposed to occur in an underutilized area; 303 6. Determine whether each eligible applicant is a 304 corporation registered in this state; 305 7. Contact each applicant with any questions, as necessary; 306 8. Gather any additional information needed to address the 307 criteria specified under subsection (6); 308 9. Assemble a package containing the details of each 309 eligible applicant’s project and deliver it to each council 310 member; and 311 10. Give notice to the council of the date and time when 312 the council must convene to assess each qualified project. The 313 council may meet in person or by conference call. 314 (e) The council shall determine a score for each qualified 315 project using the criteria specified under subsection (6), with 316 the highest scores going to projects determined to provide the 317 best economic impact and return on investment to this state. 318 (6) CRITERIA FOR DETERMINING PROJECT SCORES.— 319 (a) The priority order and scoring system of the criteria 320 specified in paragraph (b) must be determined by the 321 commissioner, with assistance from the council and other 322 persons, as determined by the commissioner, before the first 323 application window. 324 (b) The council shall use, at a minimum, the following 325 criteria in determining a qualified project’s score: 326 1. The amount of the project’s overall qualified 327 expenditures. 328 2. The amount of the project’s Florida-resident wages. 329 3. The number of full-time-equivalent jobs created by the 330 project. 331 4. Whether the project provides pension, health, and 332 welfare benefits to its workforce in this state. 333 5. The estimated direct and indirect tourism benefit of the 334 project, based on the submitted distribution plan. 335 6. The duration of Florida-resident employment for the 336 project. 337 7. What percentage of the project, if any, is being made in 338 an underutilized area. 339 8. Whether the project is family friendly. 340 9. Whether the project has a Florida-resident writer, 341 producer, or star. 342 10. Whether a Florida film, television, or digital media 343 school will assist with the production of the project. 344 11. Whether the project leadership team has a successful 345 track record. 346 12. The number of Florida-resident veterans the project 347 will hire. 348 13. The number of Florida film school graduates the project 349 will hire as cast or crew. 350 (7) NOTIFICATION OF DECISION.— 351 (a) After the council determines a project’s score, the 352 commissioner shall, in a timely manner: 353 1. Make a final determination on certifying or rejecting 354 each qualified project, giving consideration to the council’s 355 scoring. 356 2. Provide a list of certified projects to the department 357 which includes the associated maximum rebate amounts that the 358 respective applicants may receive. 359 3. Notify each certified project of the specified 360 percentage of qualified expenditures for which it is eligible 361 and the maximum rebate amount that it may receive. 362 4. Provide a notice of rejection to each rejected 363 applicant; however, the failure to notify an applicant of its 364 rejection does not deem the applicant’s project a certified 365 project. 366 (b) Based on the final determination of the commissioner, 367 the department shall earmark and set aside the amount necessary 368 to fund the total maximum that may be awarded for the certified 369 projects, if funds are available. 370 (8) VERIFICATION PROCESS.— 371 (a) The commissioner shall develop a process to verify the 372 actual qualified expenditures and rebate bonus eligibility of a 373 certified project after the project’s work in this state is 374 complete. The process must require all of the following: 375 1. Submission to the commissioner of at least all of the 376 following information, electronically or in hard copy, or both, 377 by each certified project: 378 a. Data substantiating each qualified expenditure which has 379 been audited by an independent certified public accountant 380 licensed in this state, as required under subparagraph 4.; 381 b. Copies of documents verifying residency of persons 382 represented as being residents of this state; 383 c. The final script; 384 d. The most recent production board and shooting schedule; 385 e. The most recent credit list showing where the credits 386 required under subsection (9) will appear; 387 f. A cast list and a final crew list with contact 388 information; 389 g. For any veterans employed by the project, a copy of at 390 least one of the veterans’ DD Form 214, as issued by the United 391 States Department of Defense, or another acceptable form of 392 identification as specified by the Department of Veterans’ 393 Affairs; and 394 h. Any other information determined necessary by the 395 commissioner. 396 2. Signing, and submission to the commissioner, by the lead 397 producer or studio executive in charge of the certified project, 398 of an affidavit or written declaration signed under the penalty 399 of perjury as specified in s. 92.525, Florida Statutes, stating 400 that all salaries, wages, and other compensation submitted as 401 qualified expenditures are in compliance with this section. 402 3. The information and affidavit required by subparagraphs 403 1. and 2. must be received by the commissioner within 120 days 404 after the certified project has made its last qualified 405 expenditure, but no later than 1 year after its production start 406 date. Pursuant to the rules adopted by the department, the 407 commissioner may, upon a showing of good cause, grant a one-time 408 extension of this deadline. 409 4. The conducting of a compliance audit, at the certified 410 project’s expense, by an independent certified public accountant 411 who is a resident of this state to substantiate the qualified 412 expenditures, and submission of a report of the audit findings, 413 including substantiating data, to the commissioner within a 414 reasonable period of time after the initial receipt of records 415 from the certified project. 416 (b) The commissioner shall review the report and data 417 required under paragraph (a) within a reasonable period of time 418 after receipt of the report and data and shall report to the 419 department the final verified amount of actual qualified 420 expenditures the certified project made and the amount of the 421 rebate, including any bonus, due the project. 422 (c) Upon approval by the department of the final rebate 423 amount, which may not exceed the maximum specified in the notice 424 provided under subparagraph (7)(a)3., the rebate must be issued 425 within a reasonable period of time. 426 (9) MARKETING AND TOURISM REQUIREMENT.— 427 (a) The commissioner shall ensure, as a condition of 428 receiving a rebate under this section, that a certified project 429 includes marketing promoting this state as a tourist destination 430 or film and entertainment production destination. At a minimum, 431 the marketing must include placement in the end credits of a 432 “Filmed in Florida” or “Produced in Florida” logo with size and 433 placement commensurate to other logos included in the end 434 credits or, if no logos are used, the statement “Filmed in 435 Florida” or “Produced in Florida” or a similar statement 436 approved by the commissioner and the logo of the local film 437 office, if applicable. A digital media project must also supply 438 a 5-second or longer animated logo with “Produced in Florida” or 439 other text, including the logo of the local digital media 440 office, if applicable, as preapproved by the commissioner, in a 441 manner easily seen by a consumer of the digital media project. 442 The commissioner shall provide the logos for the purposes 443 specified in this paragraph, not including the logo for a local 444 office, which must be provided by the applicable office. 445 (b) A certified project must allow the commissioner, or an 446 affiliate, and a minimum of two guests to visit the production 447 site upon the request of the commissioner. Upon such request, 448 the certified project must give the commissioner reasonable 449 notice of a visit date and time that is acceptable to the 450 production. The commissioner or an affiliate is not required to 451 make a visit to the set. 452 (c) A certified project must provide at least five 453 preapproved photos of the production to the commissioner and 454 grant the commissioner free use of the photos in promoting this 455 state as a film, television, or digital media production 456 location or tourist destination. 457 (10) DISQUALIFICATION.—The department shall disqualify a 458 certified project and may not issue a rebate to the project if 459 the project: 460 (a) Does not begin principal photography in this state 461 within the period beginning 30 days before and ending 90 days 462 after the project’s listed production start date. Pursuant to 463 department rule, the commissioner may, upon a showing of good 464 cause, grant a one-time extension of this deadline; 465 (b) Does not abide by the policies, procedures, deadlines, 466 or requirements of the application verification process; 467 (c) Does not notify the commissioner of any change in the 468 production start date before commencing production; 469 (d) Submits fraudulent information; or 470 (e) Uses the state sales tax exemption established under s. 471 288.1258, Florida Statutes. 472 (11) FRAUD.—An applicant that submits fraudulent 473 information under this section is liable for reimbursement of 474 the reasonable costs and fees associated with the review, 475 processing, investigation, and prosecution of the fraudulent 476 submission. An applicant that obtains a rebate under this 477 section through a claim that is fraudulent shall reimburse the 478 program for the rebate awarded and reasonable costs and fees 479 associated with the review, processing, investigation, and 480 prosecution of the fraudulent claim and shall pay a civil 481 penalty in an amount equal to double the rebate amount and any 482 criminal penalty assessed against the applicant. 483 (12) RULES; POLICIES; PROCEDURES.—The department may adopt 484 rules and shall develop policies and procedures to administer 485 this section, including, but not limited to, rules specifying 486 requirements for the application and approval process and the 487 determination of qualified expenditures. 488 (13) ANNUAL REPORT.—Each November 1, the commissioner shall 489 provide an annual report on the program for the previous fiscal 490 year to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the 491 Speaker of the House of Representatives. The report must 492 identify the return on investment associated with, and economic 493 benefits to this state attributable to, the program. 494 (14) FUNDS NOT SUBJECT TO REVERSION.—Notwithstanding s. 495 216.301, Florida Statutes, funds appropriated for this purpose 496 shall not be subject to reversion. 497 (15) EXPIRATION.—The Film, Television, and Digital Media 498 Targeted Rebate Program expires June 30, 2025, at which point 499 all remaining appropriated funds not earmarked and set aside for 500 certified projects must revert to the General Revenue Fund. All 501 remaining appropriated funds must revert to the General Revenue 502 Fund no later than October 31, 2026. 503 Section 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.