New Orleans state Sen. J.P. Morrell has filed nearly a dozen bills aimed at revamping the state’s film tax credit program.
The legislation would: modify the cost of the credits, focus the credits to benefit Louisiana, institute better regulation and seek to control fraudulent behavior, according to a news released issued Wednesday by the Senate communications office.
The film tax credit program has made Louisiana attractive to the motion picture industry bringing a string of productions to the state since the program began in 2002.
The credits were created to boost three entertainment industries: movie and TV productions, sound recordings and musical and theatrical productions.
Despite its successes, Morrell said budget issues and concerns about fraud in the program require changes to be made.
According to a state Department of Economic Development report, the program cost $4.48 for every $1 of state revenue it creates.
“The film and movie production industry made possible by these credits has brought a new sense of innovation to Louisiana,” said Morrell, a Democrat. “The problems that have arisen are correctable and I will do everything in my power to ensure the future viability of this valuable program.”
Among the 11 billd are those that would:
Limit the amount of tax credits that can be awarded on state-certified productions approved during a fiscal year to $300 million. It would roll over any credits not awarded to future fiscal years.
Authorize contracts for tax credits for five years, renewable for five more years, for scripted television-video series if they agree to construct or lease production facilities in Louisiana. An agreement would also have to be struck with Economic Development on guaranteed expenditures and jobs for Louisiana residents.
Require sworn affidavits of those submitting information for the creation of production audit reports for tax credits; regulate and limit production expenditures among related parties.
Require the Louisiana Workforce Commission to provide information to Economic Development and the state Revenue Department to verify payroll and employment of Louisiana residents for purpose of the tax credit.
Authorize the recapture of disallowed tax credits personally from owners of entities created or organized for the primary purpose of receiving and-or sellling tax credits.
Requires sellers of tax credits to qualify for and be included in a Public Registry of Motion Picture Investor Tax Credit Brokers which includes a criminal history background examination. Those who don’t register would be subject to a fine of up to $10,000 or prison up to five years, or both.