Changes to Minnesota's 'Snowbate' program after Jimmy Fallon furore

New guidelines on what projects can receive state-funded rebates come after controversy over Fallon's Super Bowl broadcast.
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The state organization that helped bring Jimmy Fallon to Minnesota for the Super Bowl is introducing new guidelines for what film projects can receive taxpayer money.

The move comes after the state’s "Snowbate" program came under fire when it was reported that Jimmy Fallon’s Super Bowl broadcast at the Orpheum Theatre received $267,000 in state dollars.

The Snowbate program provides up to a 25 percent rebate for productions in Minnesota, and is part of Minnesota Film and Television, a state-funded organization that aims to bring TV and movie projects to the state.

After the hefty price tag for Fallon’s show was made known, Rep. Nolan West (R-Blaine) called on lawmakers to hold on hearing on the program. He noted that the special broadcast would have likely been filmed even without any state aid, given its profitability.

But new guidelines introduced by Minnesota Film and Television would not have reimbursed Fallon’s show. The new rules specifically prohibit Snowbate money to go toward one-time productions relating to a national event, like sports or politics. This would include the Super Bowl broadcast.

The new guidelines also mean the state must look at economic impact and the number of local jobs created when evaluating a production for the Snowbate program.

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In a statement published by MPR, West said the new guidelines would help the state grant such rebates more carefully.

"I’m pleased with the new guidelines, as common sense would tell you not to spend taxpayer dollars on projects centered on national events taking place in Minnesota or on local political candidates," West said.

"It’s unfortunate we had to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars on productions that were going to film here regardless before the standards were changed."

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