In a Senate vote on Wednesday, the Florida Senate approved a measure that would dissolve the special taxing district that allows Disney to self-govern its theme parks.
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In a 23-16 vote, the Republican-controlled chamber gave its support to the bill. Prior to being sent to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, this bill has to be voted on by the state House. During the special session this week, DeSantis requested that the Legislature support the measure.
As a result of the legislation, Disney’s special district would be dismantled on June 1, next year. Disney is allowed to self-govern by collecting taxes and providing emergency services as a result of a 1967 state law. About 25,000 acres are controlled by Disney in the Orlando area, and as a result, Disney does not need to get approval from a planning commission for new construction and impact fees.
The Senate also voted 24-15 on Wednesday to approve a bill that would remove Disney’s exemption from a law about big tech censorship enacted in 2021.
This is an update. The original story by Liza Carlisle for Republic Brief is below.
Disney is about to lose its’ legal ability to govern its’ property in Florida as the corporation becomes the subject of scrutiny by lawmakers due to the extreme liberal views it promotes.
“The Reedy Creek Improvement District, a semi-private, special-purpose government, is controlled by Disney and spans 39 square miles. “The Daily Mail reported.
“It was created in 1967 when the then-Florida Republican Governor Claude Kirk signed into law the Reedy Creek Improvement Act.
It allowed Disney to regulate land use, enforce building codes, treat wastewater, control drainage, maintain utilities and provide fire protection at the resort.
The district is governed by a Board of Supervisors selected by its 19 landowners, the biggest and most influential of them being Disney World.
It also has the authority to tax the land and use the revenue to provide essential public services and operate and maintain all public roads and bridges.
Such private governments are common in Florida, which has more than 600 community development districts managing infrastructure.
If the 1967 law is repealed, by GOP lawmakers, Disney World’s property will fall under the control of Orange and Osceola counties, The Daily Mail continued.
“DeSantis had only previously hinted he was ‘receptive’ to changing the district, making today’s announcement a dramatic heating up in his war with Disney.”
Disney has been vocal in opposing Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” House Bill 1557, labeled by opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay bill” which Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed in March 2022.
The bill forbids the discussion in public schools of homosexual or transgender issues with children in kindergarten through third grade.
This week Gov. DeSantis said he will decide now on the termination of the 1967 law and that he “will hold discussions in the coming days over abolishing The Reedy Creek Improvement District.”
The Daily Mail Reported that “The move would mean ripping up the 55-year-old deal that allows the company to regulate land, enforce building codes and treat wastewater at the Orlando resort.
‘I am announcing today that we are expanding the call of what they are going to be considering this week,’ DeSantis said.
And so yes they will be considering the congressional map but they also will be considering the termination of all special districts that were enacted in Florida prior to 1968. And that includes the Reedy Creek Improvement District,’”.
The special session, which will finish on Friday, called by DeSantis to look at a congressional map focusing on north Florida will now include a review of the special districts made for private firms before a 1968 constitutional amendment. This includes Disney’s situation.
The war between liberal Disney and the government of Florida escalated as The Daily Mail reports that “at the beginning of this year, the company gave $125,000 to the Republican Party of Florida and $65,000 to a committee that helps elect Republican state senators.
One of the sponsors of the bill was so angered by Disney eventually speaking out against it that he returned their cash.
The donations, which were disclosed in new campaign filings last week, arrived as the state legislative session was getting underway in January.
Disney gave a $100,000 check to the Republican Party of Florida on January 11 and $25,000 more on January 26. It also donated $25,000 to the Democrat leadership fund.
The bill passed through the state legislature despite protests from the LGBTQ community and from some Disney employees.
It was signed into law by Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor, on March 28 and comes into effect on July 1.
In response to the bill, Disney announced it would pause making campaign donations in Florida.
The company also said it hoped that the law was repealed or struck down by the courts.
A federal lawsuit has already been filed by a group of LGBTQ advocates while President Joe Biden described the bill as ‘hateful’.
Three Republicans have returned donations, Politico reported, returning $8,000 – among them Rep. Joe Harding.
After DeSantis signed the bill into law, Disney said: ‘Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts.’
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DeSantis responded to the stance by accusing the company of being dishonest and hypocritical.
He told Fox: ‘You’ve got to wonder why is the hill to die on to have transgenderism injected into kindergarten classrooms, or woke gender ideology injected into second-grade classrooms. Why is that the hill to die on?
DeSantis pointed out Disney Cruises sail to the Dominican Republic, which has laws banning gay marriage and legalizing discrimination against gay people.
He said: ‘So they’re (the Chinese Communist Party, which Disney thanked in the credits of Mulan) fine doing that and lining their pockets, they’re fine lining their pockets from the CCP, and all the atrocities going on there.’
DeSantis added: ‘But it’s those kindergarteners in Florida that they really want to have transgenderism as part of their core curriculum in school.’