Names Rep. Matt Dollar chair
By Elaine Owen, Editor
Georgia House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) announced earlier this month that he’s starting a legislative effort to boost the state’s film, TV and entertainment industry. Ralston created the House Working Group on Creative Arts & Entertainment, which will review the state’s tax incentives and other programs, that have led to Georgia becoming one of the top three filming locations in the world. Some of the biggest movies in the world have filmed in Georgia including Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Black Panther.
According to Ralston, currently, businesses related to the film industry employ about 200,000 people in Georgia and have a $60 billion a year impact on the state’s economy.
The group, chaired by Rep. Matt Dollar (R-Marietta) could reportedly propose new legislation to support the film industry.
“The House Working Group on Creative Arts & Entertainment will work to encourage the growth of these industries and the creative economy,” said Ralston. “They will work to ensure Georgia has a workforce ready for the jobs these industries are creating throughout our state.”
Ralston’s support of the entertainment industry comes after Hollywood A-listers threatened to boycott the state when Republican Brian Kemp won the election for governor. Film companies have also said they would stop working in Georgia if the state passed a “religious liberty” bill they argued was discriminatory towards the LGBTQ community. (Ralston said last December he was concerned about the religious liberty legislation.)
However, according to a recent interview with WSB-TV, Gov. Kemp said, “My positions on religious freedom have been very clear. I feel like we should implement what is in the federal statute word for word. Many other states have that. It does not discriminate,” he said.
Kemp added, “So I don’t really buy the film industry leaving. There may be some Hollywood actors that do that. But quite honestly, they’re taking advantage of the film tax credits and they don’t even live here.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” As enshrined in the First Amendment, religious freedom includes two complementary protections: the right to religious belief and expression and a guarantee that the government neither prefers religion over non-religion nor favors particular faiths over others. These dual protections work hand in hand, allowing religious liberty to thrive and safeguarding both religion and government from the undue influences of the other.