Bill would expand Louisiana film tax credit program

A bill to expand and extend Louisiana’s film tax credit program earned approval from a key committee Thursday as industry advocates say an eruption in the demand for streaming content could help the state return to its Hollywood South glory days, according to The News Star.

“Demand for TV and movies and content has exploded,” said Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, who authored the bill. 

Senate Bill 173 even gained skeptical nods from lawmakers like Sens. Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria, and Bret Allain, R-Franklin, who believe regions outside the New Orleans hub reap little benefit from the program.

“I’m going to surprise everybody,” said Luneau, who made the motion to advance the bill favorably from the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee that Allain chairs.

But that was only after the committee approved Luneau’s amendment to sunset the program in 2028 rather than 2031 as Hewitt proposed and after Allain made it clear there are more compromises to come before the bill reaches a full vote of the Senate. Louisiana burst onto the movie and TV production scene in 2002 by offering lucrative—and unlimited—tax credits. But production plunged in 2015 when the Legislature capped the credits and instituted a convoluted process to cash them in.

Another tweak to the program in 2017 led to a resurgence in production that stalled again in 2020 because of the pandemic.

But now streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Apple and others are ramping up production in addition to traditional production from studios and networks, testified Trey Burvant, president of the Louisiana Film and Entertainment Association in New Orleans. Read the full story.