Our legislative team has reiterated how vital it is that supporters of the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program continue to file “letters of opinion” in support of 2ESSB 5539.
As of this afternoon we are still waiting for Governor Gregoire to sign 2ESSB 5539, the bill that renews the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program, into law. We have confirmation that her office has received the bill. Legislators remain in special session and many bills that require action from the Governor’s Office are pending.
Our legislative team is still in Olympia, putting pressure on the Governor to sign the bill prior to the March 31st midnight deadline. As many media headlines have indicated, the House and Senate remain in the middle of difficult budget negotiations. This has delayed the Governor’s signature on many pieces of legislation.
If you have already written, please write again and help spread the word. Do not delay.
Today, Business Insider released an article entitled ‘The 10 Movies From SXSW That Are Most Likely To Be Hits‘. Washington filmmakers have so much to celebrate. Three of ten features from this list were filmed in our state – ‘Eden’, ‘Fat Kid Rules the World’, and ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’. Not only were these films produced in Washington, but they were all participants in the 2011 Motion Picture Competitiveness Program. Washington Filmworks is very proud to have been a part of these productions.
Take a moment to appreciate the magnitude of this achievement. With a modest incentive, Washington has fostered 1/3 of the films from this list. Not only are these movies charming critics, but they are hits with festival audiences and juries. For example, ‘Eden’ recently took home the SXSW Audience Award and director Megan Griffiths shared the Emergent Narrative Woman Director Award.
As we wait for Governor Gregoire to sign 2ESSB 5539 into law, Washington Filmworks has put out a call to our states’ film community to file “letters of opinion” in support of the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program. It is so important that we share our successes with our elected officials. As you include your personal story in your letter to the Governor, don’t hesitate to include the amazing achievements of films produced in Washington State.
Congratulations to everyone in our film community who was a part of these projects!
Now that 2ESSB 5539 has passed out of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the bill has been sent to Govenor Gregoire’s office for her signature. The Governor has 20 days to sign the bill. Once signed, it will officially become law 90 days after the end of the 2012 legislative session (early June).
Our leglislative team in Olympia has indicated that it is important for film industry professionals to contact Governor Gregoire’s office to file what are referred to as “letters of opinion” in support of the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program (2ESSB 5539). The more letters her office receives, the more likely a bill signing ceremony will be scheduled quickly.
In writing to Governor Gregoire, please share your personal story. Explain how this program has impacted your life and the life of your family. Also, feel free to cite some of the economic impact and jobs information we have included below.
- Since launching the program in February 2007, a total of 71 projects have completed principal photography with the help of funding assistance through Washington Filmworks. This resulted in $69.2M of direct spending in our statewide economy, with $31.2M spent on wages and benefits for Washington workers and $38M spent with Washington based businesses that rely on film work to keep their doors open and to employ their full time staff.
- JLARC estimated that each dollar spent in Washington by the film industry yields $1.99 of economic activity in the state and local economies. This means that the $20M of funding assistance committed to productions has generated $137.7M of economic activity (benefits 689% greater than costs).
- During 2007 – 2011 funding recipients provided 4211 jobs to film crews. An additional 681 jobs were created for actors and 4883 jobs were created for extras.
- Washington Filmworks creates immediate jobs for Washington workers. Upon approval for assistance, film projects go into production within 30 days.
- Washington State is the only film incentive program in the country that requires a production to provide health care and retirement benefits for local workers.
The House of Representatives passed E2SSB 5539, the bill to renew the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program, with a vote of 92 to 6. Governor Gregoire has 20 days to sign the bill in to law. We will let you know as soon as the bill signing is scheduled.
At the end of today’s proceedings a motion was made to put 2ESSB 5539, the bill to renew the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program, on the House second reading calendar. This will make the bill eligible for a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.
It is imperative that all film industry professionals and supporters write their Representatives TONIGHT.
Ask them to support the the bill when it comes to the floor for a vote. Tomorrow is the last day of the regular session, so 2ESSB 5539 will need to be voted on tomorrow, March 8th.
This morning Washington Filmworks Board members Becky Bogard and Greg Smith, Executive Director Amy Lillard, and Rebecca Johnson of the Washington State Labor Council were in Olympia to testify at a public hearing in the House Ways & Means Committee.
Approximately 30 film industry professionals attended in support of the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program (E2SSB 5539) and were acknowledged at the start of testimony. Thank you to the film community for your time this morning. It was a long drive for such a limited opportunity to share our story. Please know your presence made a difference. We are blown away!
If you were unable to join us this morning video is now available online at TVW. Testimony and questions about E2SSB 5539 begin at 7:00 min and end at 26:20. We are waiting to hear if Ways & Means will reconvene this evening for an Executive Session.
Please stay tuned to the blog and facebook page for updates as we know more.
We’re in the home stretch – and we need to sprint to the finish line.
As you may already know, SB 5539 was marked as necessary to implement the budget (NTIB) and included in the Senate budget this week, but not the House budget. Yesterday, the House passed their version of the statewide budget with a vote of 53 to 45. The Senate will likely pass their budget over the weekend, at which point both versions will be reconciled to create a final budget. We don’t anticipate movement on SB 5539 until this reconciliation process begins and both chambers consider bills that are NTIB.
During the interim period we need to exert pressure on members of the House of Representatives, as the bill must pass the House before it can be included in the final budget. In reaching out to your Representatives….
- Push The Vote
- Urge your Representatives to support the bill and tell Speaker Frank Chopp to schedule a vote on the floor of the House. Consider emailing Speaker Chopp directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) to urge him to schedule a vote for SB 5539.
- Quantify The Impact
- Tell your Representatives how much more work you’ve had because of the incentive. Share how this has made a difference in your livelihood and that of your family.
- Flight of the Film Industry
- Reiterate that without the incentive program, studios and production companies will take their motion picture projects to one of the other 39 states with competitive production incentives. The film industry, its employment opportunities, and the revenue it provides to the state will vanish.
The most important thing to do now is email and call your Representatives. Find out who they are here. It is especially crucial that film industry supporters, who live outside of the two production centers of Spokane and Seattle, reach out to their Representatives. Remind them the film industry touches every city, county and region of the state.
Many of you have expressed interest in visiting Olympia to meet face-to-face with your Representatives. If you choose to make the journey, please let Washington Filmworks know in advance so that we can inform you about the concerns your Representatives have with the bill (if any). We have suggestions on how you may best address these concerns in conversation.
The legislative session is scheduled to end ONE WEEK FROM TODAY. The finish line is in sight – keep at it!
Olympia has heard you! We are pleased to report that SB 5539 is still in play.
SB 5539, the bill to renew the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program, was passed out of the Senate with a vote of 40 to 8 on February 14th. The bill proceeded to the House where it successfully passed out of the House Committee on Community & Economic Development & Housing with a vote of 8 to 1. The bill was then referred to the House Ways & Means Committee where it failed to have a hearing before the bill cutoff date of February 27th.
Our legislative team in Olympia worked hand-in-hand with elected officials to get SB 5539 included in the proposed Senate budget, which was released this morning. Because the bill is included in the proposed budget, it is now considered NTIB – or necessary to implement the budget. This means SB 5539 is no longer subject to the previous cutoff date.
The next hurdle is to get the bill to the floor of the House of Representatives for a full vote. There are many different avenues that the bill could take at this juncture. We are working with our supporters in Olympia to identify the most efficient and effective path.
In anticipation of a vote on the floor of the House, it is imperative that Representatives hear from their constituents. Please write and call today to express your desire to have the bill voted on before the end of session. We encourage you to use the toll-free Legislative Hotline in Olympia (1-800-562-6000) as well as the IndieClub website (www.IndieClub.com/wasupport) to contact members of the House of Representatives.
Preliminary reports from Olympia indicate that 2ESSB 5539 is not included on the agenda for tomorrow’s House Ways & Means Committee meeting. While the best case scenario would be a hearing in Ways & Means and action on the bill by end of tomorrow, it’s far from fatal if that doesn’t happen. In the legislature, many bills are labeled necessary to implement the budget (NTIB). Our legislative team has been working with our supporters in Olympia and we have been assured that 2ESSB 5539 can fall into this category.
It’s that time in the legislative session when many of the standard procedural rules are thrown out the window. Your legislative team believes that the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program is very much alive, but that it is time to shift our focus. We believe that Representative Hunter and Speaker Chopp have gotten the message and it is counterproductive to push them further at this juncture. You can be most helpful by shifting your energy to contacting the two House Representatives from your own legislative district.
Many believe the legislative process is very ordered and that it follows rules that are set in stone. While this is generally true, as the session ends, the rules become more flexible. This is the grey area we are in now with respects to the passage of 2ESSB 5539. When the final statewide budget is agreed on by the House and Senate, part of that process is examining what bills are needed to reach the ending balance. In order to make the budget work, those bills will need to be passed. We believe that the final agreement will include 2ESSB 5539.
So you may be curious how a bill gets voted on without committee action. There are numerous procedural moves that could bring the bill to the House floor for a vote. It is also possible for the House Ways & Means Committee to hear the bill and take action. This is possible because all NTIB bills are exempt from cutoff restrictions and thus, still actionable after 5 p.m. on Monday.
As legislators from your district consider the final statewide budget, ask them to approve 2ESSB 5539. Remind them that the legislation creates jobs and your livelihood depends on it. It is important to remember they are under tremendous pressure to close the budget gap and minimize cuts in social service and government programs. Most elected officials realize measures that create jobs are an important part of our state’s economic recovery. Remind them that 2ESSB 5539 falls into this category.
Many members of our community have expressed interest in going to Olympia on Monday to lobby on behalf of the legislation. Again, efforts should be focused on contacting Representatives from districts that you live/work in. We anticipate the membership will be debating and voting on the proposed budget tomorrow. Their availability may be limited. The majority of elected officials will arrive in Olympia in the early afternoon and go into session at 1:30 p.m. The best opportunity to discuss the bill will be to call them off the floor by submitting a note via a House Page.
Amy Lillard will be in Olympia tomorrow to meet with film industry professionals between 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. It is important that you connect with Amy before speaking with elected officials to get any available updates about the legislation. She will also have materials you can distribute to Representatives and Staff. If you plan on coming to the capital tomorrow, please email Amy directly (Amy@WashingtonFilmworks.org).
Thanks for your continued support and please let us know if you plan on being in Olympia tomorrow.