AN UPDATE ON THE LEGISLATIVE FRONT (sent on behalf of Mark Hoeger)
Dear Friends of Nebraska Films,
Our hero, Senator Colby Coash, has come up with an new plan to encourage film production in Nebraska.
The legislation is LB863 and the hearing is in front of the Urban Affairs committee; the hearing will take place this Tuesday, January 31 at around 1pm at the Capital in Lincoln.
We at the Nebraska Film Association are optimistic (guardedly) about this particular Legislative Bill's chances of passage because it addresses the objectives of the opposition.
In the past, opponents of film incentives have successfully (but we think inaccurately) argued that the State should not spend scarce resources to promote an industry with dubious returns for Nebraska's economy.
However, LB863 gets around this objection by simply stipulating that film production is an industry that qualifies for local incentives already offered to other industries and paid directly by individual cities and villages.
So there is no cost to the state since these are city-funded and city-run economic development programs.
Each city that has established a local economic development fund would be free to set up its own film incentives or even negotiate directly with producers on a case by case basis.
Attached is a one page summary of the bill prepared by Senator Coash's office.
It is a modest proposal but is an all important first step that will take us from none to some incentives. While we are optimistic we still need your help. Right now our focus is on the Urban Affairs Committee whose positive vote is needed to move the bill to the legislative floor.
The committee members and contact information are listed below.
Please write, email or phone any or all of them but especially contact any that are your Representative You are also encouraged to attend the hearing on Tuesday to show your support.
We have an excellent slate of folks lined up to testify but it is an open public hearing so anyone is free to speak if they so desire. We would ask, however, for the sake of our making the best possible case in front of the committee that if you want to testify, contact Senator Coash's legislative aid, Sheila Page, so that we can adjust our already prepared testimony:
The most effective testimony respects the committee member's time.You can also enter written testimony that will become part of the official record. Simply send your remarks to Shelia.
Once the bill comes out of committee, we will seek your help again in finding the votes to finally establish Nebraska as a film friendly state.
Please call or e-me if you have questions or comments. Thanks again for all your support.
Nebraska Film Association
Senators on Urban Affairs Committee:
McGill, Amanda, Chair Dist. 26, Lincoln
Phone: (402) 471-2610
Coash, Colby, VC Dist. 27, Lincoln
Ashford, Brad Dist. 20, Omaha
Phone: (402) 471-2622
Cook, Tanya Dist. 13, Omaha
Phone: (402) 471-2727
Krist, Bob Dist. 10, Omaha
Phone: (402) 471-2718
Lambert, Paul Dist. 2, Lincoln
Phone: (402) 471-2613
Smith, Jim Dist. 14, Papillion
Phone: (402) 471-2730
LB 863 2012, Sen. Coash
I. WHAT: Explicitly makes film/tv/commercial production companies eligible to receive financial incentives from the Local Option Municipal Economic Development funds.
A. Signed into law in 1991, the Local Option Municipal Economic Development (LOMED) Act "authorizes incorporated cities and villages to collect and appropriate local tax dollars (sales and/or property tax), if approved by the local voters, for economic development purposes. To date 55 communities have voted to create such programs." (Annual Report, NE Dept of Econ. Dev. 2010)
B. This bill adds to the LOMED Act "the production of films, including feature, independent, and documentary films, commercials, and television programs" as qualifying business operations for purposes of LOMED benefits.
II. HOW: "Aviation Cocktail" example in Valentine, NE
A. In 2011, the Valentine City Council granted $5,000 in LOMED funds to the Valentine Department of Economic Development for economic incentives for the production of the film "Aviation Cocktail."
1. Distribution of Funds:
a. Local businesses gave the production company discounts on lodging, transportation and food; then,
b. the Economic Development Department refunded the businesses $5,000 for the discounts they provided.
2. Immediate Return on Investment:
a. The crew for "A.C." spent $50,000 in Valentine over 3 weeks
i. Crew of 30 people
ii. Extraordinary aerial shots showcasing NE landscape
iii. Used 100 local people as extras (unpaid)
iv. *Hired* 3 people: camera man, set manager, minor role for a child
3. Long-Term Benefits:
a. The producer said this movie would have cost $5 million without a setting like Valentine -Bobby Deline: 303-887-9234
b. Another actor, Tim Hammer of CA, plans to come to Valentine for a $2.5 million production this spring (2012)
c. Film crews find this model attractive b/c they reap the discount right away; there is no application to file
III. WHY: Although the City of Valentine technically awarded LOMED funds for film production incentives without the proposed statutory language in Sen. Coash's bill, this bill is needed to codify film production companies as qualified businesses.
A. Codification in statute will provide:
1. Awareness to film companies of the possible economic benefits of film production in a Nebraska community, and
2. Clarity and direction to city councils that film productions do indeed qualify for possible benefits; and
3. Attractive opportunities and advantages which local communities can advertise directly to film production companies.
4. Also, local city councils not only will have control over the allocation of film production incentives, but also will directly reap the benefits of them.
Types of Activities That Will Be Eligible
The plan must describe eligible types of economic development activities under the program. (Section 18-2710)
This section should specifically describe types of eligible activities to be funded by local tax revenues under the program. However, it’s important to note that all listed eligible activities do not necessarily need to be undertaken. The community and economic development strategy should provide guidance.
Activities not included in the plan, however, will not be eligible for funding during the life of the
plan unless changed through another election process
The types of activities that may be pursued through this Act include, but are not limited to (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 18-2705):
• direct loans or grants to qualifying businesses for fixed assets or working capital or both
• loan guarantees for qualifying businesses
• grants for public works improvements which are essential to the location or expansion of a qualifying business
• grants or loans for job training
• the purchase of real estate or options for such purchases
• issuance of bonds as provided for in the Act; and
• payments of salaries and support of city staff to implement the economic development program or the contracting of such services.
For cities of the first and second class and villages, grants or loans for the construction or rehabilitation for sale or lease of housing for persons of low or moderate income also are possible under auspices of the Act.
An economic development program pursued through this Act may be conducted jointly by two or more cities after the approval of the program by the voters of each participating city.