Legislative Committee Report

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Legislative Committee Report

Breakfast with Sen. Mazie Hirono
Breakfast with Sen. Mazie Hirono. Photos by Charles Uyehara.

By Charles Uyehara
Vice President & Chair, Legislative Committee

In case you were not aware, Hawaii offers a tax incentive to TV and motion picture companies that shoot here on the islands. More productions equals more work for actors, crew and drivers.

However, Hawaii competes not only with Los Angeles, but with the entire world to attract productions.

Have you ever wondered why there seem to be so many productions coming out of England? They offer up to 80 percent tax relief and a 25-percent cash rebate to production companies filming there.

Here in the United States, 35 states and territories offer tax incentives to lure film productions. Washington, D.C., tops the list at 42 percent worth of tax incentives, followed by Puerto Rico at 40 percent; Oklahoma at 35 percent; Washington state at 30 percent; Illinois, New York, Louisiana and Kentucky at 30 percent; and the list goes on. Hawaii is 20th on the list at, coincidently, a 20-percent incentive for Oahu and 25 percent for the neighbor islands. 

The competition gets even more heated because several states not only offer tax breaks, but are also “right-to–work” states such as Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee. Production companies start planning years in advance and need to know they can rely on the credit to make their shows financially feasible.

Hawaii’s tax incentive is going to “sunset” (nicer way to say “end”) on Jan. 1, 2019. There are two bills in the Legislature to extend the production tax credit to 2024: HB 423 and SB 1086. Hawaii is unique and beautiful, but we cannot rest on these laurels because of advances in modern technology. Remember how Lost transformed downtown Honolulu into London, England? As Dennis Chun from 5-0 pointed out in our last interview, “I once talked to a producer who said: I hope the politicians understand something … I’m here because of the tax credits … take that away and I can shoot Hawaii anywhere. I’ve got a green screen, and I can put Hawaii in [my production] anytime. I don’t need to be in Hawaii to make it work, and if I want a Hawaiian actor, I’ll fly him/her up to the mainland.” We must remain competitive!

Local Executive Director Brenda Ching and your Board of Directors have been doing their part to inform your representatives how important it is to pass the extension bill.

Greeting state Sen. Laura Thielen
Greeting state Sen. Laura Thielen

We attended opening day at the Capitol on Jan. 18, with delegates from IATSE, AFM, Teamsters and UH Manoa Academy for Creative Media to meet and thank legislators and to show our solidarity and support behind a film tax credit extension bill.

We also attended a legislative meet-and-greet breakfast, sponsored by the state AFL-CIO, where we were able to reach out to even more legislators. 

Finally, there was a small breakfast gathering Feb. 23 to meet with Sen. Mazie Hirono, where she reported on the current political climate in D.C. and addressed numerous questions and concerns from our brothers and sisters.

You can help by letting your legislative representatives know you want them to support House Bill 423 and Senate Bill 1086.

Members with state Sen. Rosalyn Baker
Members with state Sen. Rosalyn Baker

Meeting with state Sen. Jill Tokuda
Meeting with state Sen. Jill Tokuda

State Rep. Sylvia Luke
State Rep. Sylvia Luke 

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