As we prepare to turn the corner into a New Year, we find ourselves once again deep into that familiar state of suspended activity that precedes every new legislative session. Supporters of Senator Joe Gruters’ SB 530 may be taking a quick holiday breather but they certainly have done a lot of groundwork up to this point, gathering a strong group of bipartisan co-sponsors for this legislation and shepherding it to a unanimous vote for passage at its first Senate committee stop earlier this month. One can anticipate this good bill will find its way onto the agenda of the next of its three Senate referrals soon after the 2020 legislative session convenes on January 14th and even realistically project that it will have completed its Senate journey successfully by the time Tallahassee closes shop in March.
Yet all signs indicate another unbreachable blockade in the lower chamber and ultimate disappointment due to House intransigence on the issue of corporate welfare for the motion picture industry. We may be wrong – we’d be glad to be wrong and are working behind the scenes to prove ourselves so – but we can’t see a route by which House leadership will renounce its years-long opposition to film incentives and allow companion bill HB 497 a fair hearing in committee this session. Then once again the refrain by proponents of state-level action will be “next year.”
That’s not good enough and the reason why COMPASS has bifurcated away from Tallahassee and is escalating our efforts in regions of the state that want to get back in the game, working with business and community leaders on the county and municipal level to build consensus, and laying the foundations for a Florida-centric production infrastructure that can endure and grow our industry into the future.
The COMPASS posture is that a carefully structured financing model is unquestionably a viable way forward. Seeing no end in sight to conservative opposition on the state level, we are convinced that a regional approach utilizing such a model is the most sensible ticket to ride in the New Year. With this mindset, we look ahead with confidence that 2020 will be a year of great progress for our industry!