Affiliate Execs Compare Notes At Task Force Meeting
What’s ‘Hot’ In State Legislation
(And What’s Being Done About It)
by Belinda Judson
Executive Director, Mid-States NATO
Because I monitor state legislation daily,
I like to think I have a pretty good grip on how much activity
in our state capitols. Nothing, however, hits home harder
than hearing all at once about everything that has transpired
over a period of six months.
Sitting around the table with colleagues
and discussing the various issues, as we did in September
Regional Units Task Force meeting in Chicago, makes obvious
the enormous quantities of state legislative activity and
how much work is being done in the regional units to protect
exhibition’s interests at the state and local levels.
Tax issues of many stripes were on agendas
in 23 states. Proposals called for advertising taxes, admissions
excise taxes, film rental taxes, food and beverage taxes,
sales and use taxes, repeals of exemptions from admissions
taxes and/or sales and use taxes, and local enabling legislation
that would allow municipalities or counties to impose additional
Campaigns in Michigan and North Carolina were aided
materials used in an earlier, successful effort waged
by NATO of California/Nevada to fight an admissions
tax proposal in Nevada. NATO counsel added more ammunition
by drafting a paper on arguments against admissions
Two recent success stories typified how
regional unit representatives have helped spearhead fights
against new or increased taxes.
They also exemplified the generosity of our regional
units, which routinely assist each other by sharing past
experiences – and
demonstrated how NATO assists and supports its regional
North Carolina had a proposal that would jump its admissions
taxes from 1 percent to 7 percent. Michigan had legislation
that would impose a film rental tax. In both cases, the
NATO state units launched effective, grassroots theatre
campaigns, which successfully enlisted patrons to the
cause of opposing tax increases.
These campaigns were aided by repurposing
materials used in an earlier, successful effort waged by
NATO of California/Nevada
to fight an admissions tax proposal in Nevada. NATO counsel
added more ammunition by drafting a paper on arguments
against admissions taxes.
The legislative measures in both North Carolina
and Michigan were defeated.
Minimum wage initiatives appeared in 19
states. Many of the proposals included automatic increases
indexed to the
rate of inflation.
Most of the minimum wage initiatives are
still pending; five states, however, enacted minimum wage
the 6-month timeframe the task force discussed. Regional
representatives were successful convincing lawmakers in
certain states to include a training wage provision. While
it appears that minimum wage increases are inevitable in
most cases, regional units will continue to lobby for the
training provision in future minimum wage battles.
Violent-video game bills were rampant as
well. Eighteen states had various proposals related to
selling or renting
violent and/or sexually explicit video games to minors.
Some required signage or brochures explaining video game
ratings and some provided penalties for violating the proposed
In Michigan, violent and sexually explicit
movies were included in a bill. Once again, NATO state
Michigan lobbied against legislation that would codify
the voluntary rating system. NATO counsel also weighed
in with a memorandum of opposition to help convince lawmakers
that the voluntary rating system has served America’s
parents and the movie industry well without the need of
heavy-handed government intervention.
Camcorder legislation was enacted in 17
states during the six months discussed. Regional NATO affiliates
with our colleagues at the MPAA and with NATO to support
this legislation and ensure that exhibitors were fully
protected by appropriate immunity provisions. Although
federal camcorder legislation was recently passed, it
is sometimes difficult to work with local law enforcement
without a state statute in place.
Various other issues were discussed, such
as movie start times, obscenity legislation and child labor
name a few. Regional affiliate officers who were involved
defeating bills tied to these issues discussed their
strategy with those who expected to fight similar state
in the near future.
The ability to see what is transpiring in
other states and the exchange of information on how legislation
was handled in other states is exactly what Jerry
executive director of Mid-Atlantic NATO, envisioned
the Regional Units forum. It has proven to be a great
success in aiding state regional units in their legislative
NATO honored Jerry, Ann Craft of Theatre
Owners of Indiana and Carl Goldman of Theatre Owners of
well-deserved lifetime achievement awards. It was
mentioned that they collectively had 187 years
in the industry. With that kind of expertise at
could we not learn valuable lessons that will aid
us in serving our regional members and working
Our congratulations and thanks to Jerry,
Ann and Carl for their dedicated service.
And our thanks to all NATO members for their
support, which allows us to have strong, viable
that can be
there to work on behalf of exhibition.