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Thursday evening, the Oklahoma House of Representatives voted down the extension of the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program. The bill was brought up unexpectedly around 8:30 p.m. After a heated debate, the vote came in at 45 Yeas, 44 Nays and 12 excused from voting. Since a majority of 51 votes for passage was required, the bill was held over for a revote Friday morning. There were 38 Yeas, 45 Nays with 18 members excused from voting.
The program's existing sunset date of July 1, 2014 is still in effect. As a result, projects currently prequalified in the rebate queue, and meeting all requirements of the program, will be honored. No new applications will be accepted unless either of the two remaining Fiscal Year 14 projects drop from the queue.
Film and Music Office Director Jill Simpson wrote the following messages to the film industry on the organization's website:
"All of us at the Oklahoma Film & Music Office and the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department cannot thank you enough for your efforts in supporting the rebate program. We realize the serious implications of what just occurred. It is a very sad day for our growing film industry and its hard working crew, actors and support services companies.
"Please know that both the Oklahoma Film & Music Office and the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department are fully committed to return in February with an even stronger voice next year at the Oklahoma State Capitol. We intend to stand strong in support of both a competitive film incentives program and you, our valued Oklahoma industry members. We are confident that with solidarity, we will prevail.
"Thank you again for your hard work, your talent and your support."