Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, has spent considerable time studying the issue after creating the Louisiana Entertainment Industry Development Advisory Commission in 2013 to propose changes.
His Senate Bill 96 offers the most generous cap — $300 million per year. “But I’m not hard and fast on that figure,” he said.
Morrell doesn’t want to go much lower, though. “Capping the program at $200 million per year really sends the wrong message across the nation, especially to states that are competing with us or are looking to expand their programs,” he said.
Morrell has closely consulted with the film and motion picture industry but said he is not their favored legislator.
“When drafting my bills, I did my best to address the obvious issues and flaws in the program while still making it accessible to the film industry and Louisiana citizens to utilize the credit,” he said.
With other bills he has offered, Morrell would limit deductions on some expenses and would make it easier for the government to recover credits given to people caught defrauding the program by requiring all applicants to sign sworn affidavits beforehand. The sworn affidavit is intended to prevent a repeat of a case in which an independent auditor ordered the state in February to issue $6.5 million in credits to a man who had been convicted of swindling the film tax credit program.
The critical detail there among the gobbledy-gook is the $300 million cap. $300 million is actually a 20 percent increase over the program's maximum annual cost so far. This means Morrell proposes to use the controversy surrounding the program as an opportunity to expand it rather than reign it in. I'm guessing this is the bill most likely to pass.