Florida legislature votes to strip Disney of its self-government in the state

Florida legislature votes to strip Disney of its self-government in the state

The Florida House of Representatives on Thursday gave the go-ahead to a bill that would dissolve Walt Disney World’s private government, handing Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis a victory in his feud with the entertainment giant over its opposition to a measure that critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

As lawmakers returned to the Capitol for a special legislative session on congressional redistricting, the governor issued a proclamation that allows the GOP-controlled statehouse to take up bills eliminating Disney’s self-governing district.

“I am announcing today that we are expanding the call of what they are going to be considering this week. And so, yes, they will be considering the congressional map, but they also will be considering termination of all special districts that were enacted in Florida prior to 1968, and that includes the Reedy Creek Improvement District,” DeSantis said at a news conference. DeSantis did not name Disney in his statement.

The Republican-controlled state senate voted 23-16 to eliminate the district on Wednesday afternoon, sending the measure to the state house.

Democrats hit out at the Republicans’ rush to punish Disney, who are the state’s largest employer, for political speech degraded the legislative process. “With all due respect, this is not about meaningful legislative review. This is punishment. It is political theater, and we are better than this,” said Sen. Loranne Ausley (D-Tallahassee).

“This is kind of like parents putting their kids on restrictions. Clean up your act, apologize, say you’re sorry, and agree to change your behavior. Maybe you’ll get your phone back or your other privileges,” observed Ausley.

At issue is the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a special district created in 1967 that provides Disney with unprecedented taxing and regulatory authority to build an entertainment empire.

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