The state Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday approved a bill previously approved by the House calling for a 10-year extension of a $5 million film rebate program designed to attract movie and television productions to the state.
House Bill 2580 now goes to the full Senate. A similar companion bill, Senate Bill 1721, was previously approved by the Senate and is pending in the state House of Representatives.
State Sen. Cliff Aldridge, R-Choctaw, quizzed Senate author Clark Jolley on Tuesday about why the Legislature would want to extend the film rebate program for 10 years, when the industry attracts relatively few Oklahoma jobs. Aldridge noted that special drilling incentive legislation for the oil and gas industry has been for shorter time periods, even though that industry provides thousands of Oklahoma jobs.
Jolley said television producers want the longer incentive before committing to produce television series in a state, because they are hoping the shows will have runs of several years.
“We’re doing a great job of getting films,” said Jolley, R-Edmond. “We’re struggling to get television series, both dramatic as well as the things you see on the Home and Garden Network ... simply because our sunset is so short. They don’t know that it’s going to be here for the life of the production and they don’t want to have to relocate.”
Jolley said the types of jobs created by movie and television productions in a state are diverse.
“You need electricians. You need carpenters. You need caterers. You need makeup artists. You need barbers. You need hair stylists. You need a lot of people that are regular, everyday folks,” Jolley said.
“Every movie is its own company,” he said. “But what they do is create an industry where people are able to go from this project to that project to that project, much like our self-employed people in other industries would do.”
Jolley cited the opportunities that the television series “Breaking Bad” has created for New Mexico as an example of what he hopes could happen in Oklahoma.
House Bill 2580 would grant a 10-year extension to a program that allows filmmakers to receive rebates of up to $5 million a year on money spent on movie productions in Oklahoma. The current law, which is scheduled to expire July 1, allows filmmakers to recoup $1 for every $3 spent in the state up to the program’s limit.
The bill passed the Senate Finance Committee by a vote of 7-2.
Editor's note: For more about the economic impact of the Oklahoma film rebate, you can read Gene Triplett's exhaustive July 2013 story on the subject.