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.
   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.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.
  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.
  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.
  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.