Hello VPA and Industry Members,
I hope this message finds you healthy and safe. The great American spirit and our unmatched ability to innovate will lead us through this very difficult time.
The veto session was concluded on 4/24/20 and marked the final step in the 2020 General Assembly process. It was an historic session to say the least. A new majority was elected, Eileen Filler-Corn was chosen to be the first female Speaker of the House and the Senate leadership changed hands. In addition, the legislative budget was approved with some moderate increases for our grant fund. Lastly, COVID-19 forced the Senate and House veto session to take place in different locations while wearing masks and social distancing. I have never seen anything like this since the VPA has been active in the legislative process.
The VPA Legislative Committee can now report the final outcome of the session. We were successful in having the existing tax credit and sales tax exemption extended to 2027. This will give producers some comfort regarding Virginia’s long-term commitment to content production in the state. The sales tax exemption is important to incoming producers but is also very relevant to resident commercial production in Virginia. In short, the tax credit and the sales tax code stay the same until 2027. That is a good thing for us. Our sincere thanks go to Senator Louise Lucas/ D-18, Delegate Lashrecse Aird/ D-63 and Delegate Terry Kilgore/ R-1 for their efforts on our behalf.
Coming out of the winter session we were successful in getting a million dollar a year increase in the Governor’s grant fund. That required a lot of legislator education and communication from everyone involved. Before the April veto session convened, Covid-19 struck and the existing/ upcoming budgets were decimated. As a result, the Governor was forced to trim all new funding in the upcoming bi-ennium budget and we lost those funds for the moment. There is no current word on when those funds may be restored. The good news is the base funding for the grant fund is still intact. It is important to note that Governor Northam and the administration remain strong supporters of our industry. Simply stated, difficult times demanded equally difficult actions.
First and foremost, the VPA Board would like to thank our members for their enthusiastic support. Your calls and letters to legislators make a real impact and put a name or face to our lobbying efforts. Thank you for taking the time to reach out to your legislators. Your voice matters and is a strong driver in ultimately bringing production to Virginia. Well done!
The VPA Board would like to thank our entire advocacy team. Their respective work this session was extraordinary. Josh Myers and Matt Benedetti from Matt Benedetti & Associates were there for us every step of the way. I really appreciate their wise counsel and unwavering dedication to our industry. Great work guys!!!
I would also like to warmly thank our friends at Troutman Sanders Strategies. Clark Lewis, Mike Woods, and Jennifer Walle represent AMC Networks and they collectively bring their strong expertise to our efforts. Kudos to Troutman and AMC !
I would also like to warmly thank our sponsors, Comcast, IATSE, SAG-AFTRA, Haddad’s Inc., Sunbelt Rentals and others. I would like to note a special thank you to the Cities of Richmond and Norfolk, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association who all provided strategic support for our efforts. Last, but certainly not least, is the educational work provided by the Virginia Film Office. The VFO provides the needed research and project information to help us successfully make our case. Thanks to Andy and his entire group!!
I have reached out to each one of the above-mentioned groups or individuals asking for their invaluable input and they have all responded. All have tirelessly worked on our behalf and have played a continuing, pivotal role in our successes. Please thank them for their support in the near future.
Together, this diverse team is one of the best out there and has consistently delivered results that build the industry in Virginia. During the last decade we have extended sunsets multiple times and taken film incentive funds to unprecedented levels. In summary, my sincerest gratitude goes out to this very talented group.
Your VPA Board looks forward to continuing its work to restart and rebuilt the industry in the coming months. There is a daunting amount of work to do but I am very positive as to our continued success. We have the team to deliver great results.
Terry L. Stroud
VPA Legislative Committee