Before senator and Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio wanted to transform the country, he had a more modest dream: to transform Florida into Hollywood—but with morals!
In 2006, when Rubio was speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, he released a book, 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future, that featured within its inspired pages 100 ideas Rubio compiled during town hall-like meetings that he cleverly labeled “Idearaisers.”
The book is supposedly about “how every Floridian can enjoy freedom, opportunity, and the pursuit of happiness and leave for their children a better life than their own,” but there is a caveat: Rubio wanted Floridians who were in the entertainment industry to enjoy their freedom, opportunity, and pursuit of happiness in a “family friendly” way.
“IDEA 90”: “Create a Family-Friendly Hollywood in Florida.”
There is a Hollywood, Florida—but not it’s not really what Rubio seems to have had in mind here. It’s sandwiched between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, a cramped seaside waiting room populated by condominiums, motels, personal injury attorneys, and pawnshops. But funnily enough, Hollywood is where I happened to be when I read “IDEA 90” on Wednesday.
It does seem unlikely that if Rubio were to have succeeded in building his own Hollywood in Florida, he could have avoided doing it anywhere except Hollywood, Florida. Where else was he going to build it, Tallahassee? Then you’d have Hollywood, Florida, and Tallahassee, Florida (now with more Hollywood!). It would get confusing. He would have had to spend a lot of taxpayer funds reissuing maps. I asked Rubio’s campaign about this issue and received no response.
Anyhow, the “IDEA 90” chapter begins, like all chapters should, with a quotation from George W. Bush: “In this world of change, some things do not change: the values we try to live by, the institutions that give our lives meaning and purpose. Our society rests on a foundation of responsibility and character and family commitment.”
The film industry, Rubio explains, is a large part of Florida’s economy, with $372 million in wages to Florida workers in 2001 coming from motion picture production. But, Rubio laments, “in the past two years, not one commercial or music video has qualified for Florida’s film incentive.”
To remedy the problem, Rubio suggests that “Florida should create a tax incentive program aimed at attracting more film productions and TV series to the state, with a priority given to those productions that are given ‘family-friendly’ ratings such as G or PG.”
When I asked Rubio’s campaign for a more comprehensive definition of the senator’s view of “family friendly,” his spokesman, Alex Conant, responded, “I’m sorry, but I don’t know what you're referring to.”
In April, TMZ asked Rubio what kind of music he likes. The senator called himself “a Nicki Minaj fan.” That’d be the Nicki Minaj who famously rapped “Real country a-- n---a, let me play with his rifle; P---y put his a-- to sleep, now he calling me NyQuil.”
So perhaps the senator’s definition of family friendly is somewhat broader than the reaction to his tax incentive proposal in Florida may have suggested.
The “family friendly” tax credits started being issued a year after Rubio’s book came out, in 2007. In 2010, a $75 million tax incentive proposal made its way to the floor of the legislature, and the measure included within it a provision prohibiting tax credits for productions with “nontraditional family values.”
According to The Palm Beach Post, “movies and TV shows with gay characters” could be refused the tax credit, as there was no comprehensive definition for what “nontraditional family values” meant in the text of the bill.
The executive director for Florida Together, a coalition of equal-rights groups in the state, told the publication, “Instituting 1950s-style movie censorship does nothing to support real-life families or help Florida’s struggling economy.”
I asked Rubio’s campaign if as president he would similarly seek to reward people producing “family friendly” entertainment with tax breaks and let those who produce whatever the opposite of “family friendly” entertainment is fend for themselves. My inquiry received no response.
While campaigning for the Senate, Rubio claimed that 57 of his 100 Innovative Ideas were turned into law by the legislature, a claim PolitiFact found to be “half-true”—the site’s diplomatic way of saying someone lied. Twenty-four ideas, according to PolitiFact’s research, became law and 10 are in “state law books” but are not technically law.
I asked Rubio’s campaign whether the senator was still claiming that 57 of his ideas became law during his time in the legislature. My inquiry received no response.