Orlando lawmaker wants to let counties use tourism funds to incentivize film, TV production


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Florida Sen. Linda Stewart wants to let counties use tourism funds to incentivize film and television productions in the state.

The Orlando Democrat filed SB 726, a proposal that would allow municipal governments to use funds collected from the tourist development tax, a 6 percent charge on stays at hotels, motels and other short-term rentals.

Florida's film industry has struggled since state lawmakers refused to replenish a $296 million film and entertainment incentive program that was supposed to last five years but ran out after three years, according to the Miami Herald.

While several high-profile films have been shot in Florida like Moonlight and The Florida Project, the state has lost multiple projects to other states with higher incentives like Georgia, Louisiana and California. From 2013 to 2016, the Florida film industry lost out on more than $650 million in projects, 110,000+ hotel rooms and $1.8 billion in economic impact, according to Film Florida, a nonprofit trade association representing the state's film, TV and digital media companies.

Stewart's bill would allow counties to use tourism funds to "promote or incentivize film or television productions," with the term "production" also including video games and music videos. If tourist tax revenues are used, the bill would require the production to include in its credits the statement, "Created in Florida" or "Filmed in Florida."

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