State Legislative Update
Old Themes Return;
Some With A New Twist
by Belinda Judson
Executive Director, Mid-States NATO
While many of the state legislative sessions
are, as I write this column, winding down, others are still
swing and continuing to present us with some interesting
Many of the proposals we’re seeing are similar to
ones we’ve seen on state agendas before. These deal
with, among other things, minimum wage increases (also
an issue in some municipalities), prevailing wages, sales
and use taxes, violent video games, material deemed obscene
or harmful to minors, the use of minors in performances
and ratings. (Some legislation on this last topic even
proposed prohibiting all minors from R-rated films – even
if those minors are accompanied by a parent!)
And, fearful perhaps that we might grow
bored of these familiar topics, our state lawmakers have
come up with
some newer ideas.
The good news is piracy continues to be
a big issue both on the state and federal level. Several
states have already
passed camcorder legislation and others have similar legislation
pending. States are now adding proposed legislation to
address Internet piracy and go after those illegally downloading
movies over the Internet.
Many states are enacting legislation with
tax incentives for motion picture production companies
film foundations. While this does not directly involve
exhibition, the bill in South Carolina bears watching as
it proposes that funding be generated via admissions taxes.
It’s currently waiting to be signed by the state’s
governor. An admissions tax already exists in this particular
state and the legislation does not mention an increase
of such. However, it would be easy for other states to
propose a new admissions tax or an increase in existing
taxes to fund similar incentives or foundations.
Several states are tackling the issues of
obscenity in or on motor vehicles. One state has already
prohibiting offensive markings and bumper stickers and
the exhibition of “offensive movies” in motor
vehicles. (I am told they are calling it the “drive-by
And, like their counterparts in the U.S.
Congress, state lawmakers are addressing two “hot” issues – smoking
Congressional committees have been holding
hearings regarding the influence that smoking in movies
has on America’s
youth. The states’ attorneys general have also expressed
concern about smoking in movies. To date, however, the
legislation that has appeared on the state level has been
targeted more to smoking in public places or smoking in
a motor vehicle with minors present.
As for obesity, please read John Fithian’s “From
the President’s Desk” column for
details on favorable legislation that is being enacted
in many of our states.
Thankfully, as John mentions, many of these
issues have been favorable to exhibition. Your help in
the challenges has been invaluable.