FilmL.A. Staff Invited to Sacramento as Expert Witnesses in Legislative Process

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Public participation in government is essential for democracy. Yet, there is often a level of public detachment from the seemingly mundane workings of state government in Sacramento.

But, every once in awhile, a bill comes along that promises a real impact on the day-to-day lives of Californians. One such bill – AB1069 – promises an economic return benefiting every citizen of the Golden State. AB1069 authorizes an extension to the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program – the $500 million film tax incentive approved as part of the state budget in 2009.

Because of AB1069’s importance and FilmL.A.’s reputation as a film industry leader, Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, the bill’s author, asked FilmL.A. representatives to attend a Senate Governance and Finance Committee hearing as an expert witness, when Committee reviewed the bill in June.

FilmL.A. President Paul Audley and FilmL.A. Board Chair Ed Duffy made the trip. Duffy packed hats for both FilmL.A. and Teamsters Local 399, for which he serves as business agent.

The California Film & Television Tax Credit allocates $100 million per year to incentivize in-state filming. During the program’s first year, the State exercised its option to release two years of funding, totaling $200 million. Without AB1069, which would renew funding for another five years, the program will expend all its available funds a year from now in June 2012.

A recent evaluation of the program by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) showed that California’s film tax credit is tremendously successful at keeping film and television projects — and their jobs and production spending — in California. FilmL.A.’s On-Location Production Reports bolster the evidence of a positive impact on local production levels.

Because of FilmL.A.’s state designation as a public benefit corporation, our organization is careful to provide education and counsel to our government clients without directly advocating or lobbying. However, the Legislature’s need for an expert analysis of film industry trends is evident.

“AB1069 had been heard in a prior committee that discussed FilmL.A.’s production figures and the impact of the incentive program on the L.A. region,” said Audley. “However, there was some misunderstanding and misrepresentation of our numbers that we weren’t on-hand to address. Assemblyman Fuentes rightly saw the need for our presence, should questions arise about our data,” Audley added.

AB1069 was passed out of Governance and Finance (9-0) and will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee after the recess through August 15th. No date has yet been assigned, but the Film Works campaign will provide regular updates.

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