Ratcheting up a fight with Walt Disney Co., Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday expanded a special legislative session to consider eliminating a decades-old governing district set up for Disney World and nearby properties.
DeSantis made the announcement during an appearance in The Villages, as lawmakers prepared to start a special session Tuesday on a congressional redistricting plan. The announcement came after weeks of battling between Republican leaders and Disney over a new law that restricts instruction about gender identity and sexual orientation in schools — a measure that critics call the “don’t say gay” bill.
The Republican-dominated Legislature quickly released bills and scheduled committee meetings for Tuesday afternoon on a proposal (HB 3C and SB 4-C) that targets what is known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District. They also will consider a proposal (HB 5C and SB 6-C) that would strip Disney of an exemption from a 2021 law that sought to crack down on social-media companies.
The potential dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District could have far-reaching impacts. The district was created in 1967 and covers 25,000 acres in Orange and Osceola counties, according to its website. It oversees issues such as land use and traditional functions of local government such as fire protection and water and wastewater service. A five-member board, elected by landowners, runs the district.
“Through the creation and effective operation of the district, Walt Disney was able to turn 38.5 square miles of remote and largely uninhabited pasture and swamp land into a world-class tourist destination that welcomes millions of visitors every year,” the website said
The legislation would dissolve special districts that were created before November 1968 and have not been reapproved in state law. A state Constitution was ratified in November 1968.
A House staff analysis said the legislation would apply to five special districts: the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the Bradford County Development Authority, the Sunshine Water Control District in Broward County, the Eastpoint Water and Sewer District in Franklin County and the Hamilton County Development Authority.
The districts would be dissolved on June 1, 2023, though the proposal says they could be “reestablished.”
The proposal is clearly targeted at Disney, after the company opposed the education law about instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation.
“Disney is a guest in Florida. Today we remind them,” House bill sponsor Randy Fine, R-Brevard County, wrote in a Twitter post after DeSantis’ announcement. “@GovRonDeSantis just expanded the Special Session so I could file HB3C which eliminates Reedy Creek Improvement District, a 50 yr-old special statute that makes Disney to exempt from laws faced by regular Floridians.”
But Rep. Geraldine Thompson, a Windermere Democrat whose district includes Disney properties, called the governor’s move “retribution” for opposing the education law.
“His real purpose is to punish Disney for having the nerve to stand up and say, “Don’t say gay is wrong,’” Thompson said.
She also said eliminating the special district could increase costs for residents for local services, such as fire and water.
“This does not enhance the situation in terms of taxes that Floridians would have to pay,” Thompson said.
While the proposal is targeted at Disney, David Ramba, executive director of the Florida Association of Special Districts, expressed concern about the other districts that would be affected.
“We understand the target, but we’re concerned about the potential impacts on the other four districts that are currently operating in Florida with no operational issues of any concern to the Legislature,” Ramba said.
DeSantis on March 28 signed the education measure (HB 1557), which will prohibit instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third-grade. For older grades, the bill will prohibit such instruction that “is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate” in accordance with state academic standards.
Republican supporters said the bill will bolster parental rights. But the measure drew widespread protests and arguments that it will remove teachers as a lifeline for vulnerable LGBTQ youths and have a chilling effect on educators’ ability to talk about sensitive topics with students. The law has been challenged in federal court.
—Jim Saunders, with Dara Kam and Jim Turner, News Service of Florida
Rarely do I get to cover two topics at once. This is exciting!
Here’s the question; How long will it take for central Florida’s economy to collapse if Disney says Florida just ain’t worth it and closes everything in Orange County and moves their cruise ships to the Bahamas?
Hint, the answer is in the formula on page 231 of the first math textbook the DeSantis flunkies banned. After factoring in all the variables my answer is 8 – 10 months. Buckle up buttercup, it’s gonna get rough.
We had a phrase in Alaska that whenever someone does something dumb, an Alaskan does something dumber. Of course back then we had never heard of Ronny DeSantis. Going to need neck surgery from shaking my head so much.
Now your in fantasyland – Disney just left California because of the taxes, not the politics. Financial reality always grounds the liberal crazy, just as its going to do in the midterms. You need to flip to page 232 of the textbooks away from imaginary numbers and into reality.
The commenter is misinformed. Disney is relocating less than 5 percent of its California workforce to Florida. “The decision to relocate California positions to Florida seems to have been made before Disney’s appointment in 2020 of Bob Chapek as its new chief executive, replacing longtime leader Bob Iger,” the LATimes reports. “[C]ompany officials said it would primarily involve employees in the parks, experiences and products division. The move to Florida has been in the works since 2019.”
Thank you FlaglerLive!
Really?? You think central Florida will collapse without Disney?? Have you been to Orange county lately?? Maybe in the 1970’s that might have been a problem but not now.
Maybe Disney should look to Alaska for a new location. Heard its lovely this time of year and plenty of places to launch their cruise ships from.
Mr. Ron needs to stop taking vengeance against anyone who disagrees with him and all these other separatist things he has been working on. How about taking care of the major issue happening in Florida instead of trying to be on the news every night with these crazy issues.
He is good at telling everyone what they can and can’t do. Its OK for him to try and control things of his interest or on things someone disagrees with him on. Reminds me of a 1940’s control freak from history.
Let the parents and school boards work out the teachings of their children. Work on the bigger issues like local taxes going up, the outrageous insurance issues we have here in Florida, health care services and cost, and our infrastructure.
Do you want to be the governor who fixed talking about LGBT issues in schools or the one who fixed the tax, insurance, and health issues in Florida.
DeSantis is taking this approach because it works. Big Policy that can really improve lives is too complicated for most. But they understand sound bites.
He wants to be the one ReElected or in his pipedream be nominated to run for POTUS. The closest he will ever get to the WH is sitting on the orange blowhards lap at Mara Loco
If Rep. Fine thinks Disney World needs to be reminded that it is a guest here in Florida, then by that way of thinking Rep. Fine needs to be reminded that he, too, is a guest here as he was born in Tucson Arizona.
Okay Republicans, please explain to me why it is so appealing to go back to the dark ages? Is it really comforting to you that everyone should be under oppressive control by one side of the isle? Should we all think like you? Should we only read or watch what you, and Fox Entertainment, states we are allowed to have access to? Are you happy to drive kids, who may really, actually be different from you legitimately, underground? Do you actually believe LBGTQ people are suddenly going to go straight by law? Are you scared of people with melanin in their skin? Are you happy with back alley coat hangers? Should all women be pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen and have no access to birth control or careers? How about peril necklaces and aprons, would that soothe you? You’d be calm and happy if there was one, autocratic form of government? That’s where you are going.
I thought Republicans were the ones who didn’t want government overreach. I thought Republicans didn’t want government in their bedrooms. I thought Republicans were wary of Putin. I thought Republicans supported democracy and met Democrats across the isle. I’m not a Democrat, but I believe that the Republicans are leading us, full speed ahead, to fascism. All this grandstanding for personal, political gain, and media ratings is a shame, and a dangerous one at that.
I can’t believe y’all believe the crap these politicians are throwing at you. Do you not understand they keep the Trumpian foolishness going for personal gain and ratings? These worthless spewers of hate don’t give a damn about you or me, as sure as the sun rises.
A truly excellent job of summing it ALL up!
Hopefully your posting will help pry open the minds of those who have been so abused by 20+ years of FOX (Russian tactic) propaganda.
Sherry: I think it’s really sad that all this current “conservative” nonsense claims to be “Christian values.” I’m not a Christian, nor a member of any religion, but when I read these different articles I feel truly sorry for Jesus. I think he really existed, and I think he really gave his life to remove our pains, and nowadays he is not portrayed as love, but as intolerance. If I were a kid today, I would be convinced that Jesus embodies hate and intolerance. Love is censored. Life is censored. Education is censored. Creativity is censored. Race is censored. Experience is censored. Truth to nature is censored. Poor Jesus, I really don’t think this is what he intended. Yet, all this hatred, retaliation and intolerance is being accomplished in his name.
Well said Laurel!! Though I think those that worship Duh and Dumper have selected hearing and won’t admit when they are wrong.
Heathen Lady says
The comment section needs a 👍button!
DeSantis, is a perfect example of what happens when the People put a goon power. Anyone with a dissenting opinion is suddenly an arch enemy, no matter how much they contribute to Florida.
Lance Carroll says
Probably should consider the Daytona Speedway as to reorganizing/backtracking the taxation issue there as well?
Jack Howell says
The governor certainly is totally out of his league if he thinks he can screw over Disney. I think that he can’t stand it if you don’t agree with his opinions, positions, and posturing. What I see is a long legal entanglement with lawyers being the only winners. Also, I see a long legal battle on the Congressional redistricting map for districts 5 and 10. The Black and Latino communities have every right to be upset. This is an outright slap in their faces to say nothing about sneaking a little “Jim Crowe” into the mix. No wonder Florida is the laughing target of late-night TV comedy! We truly have an anal opening for a governor.
Good job DeSantis. I truly hope the first comment is true. I hope Disney will leave the state. C how dumb he is. If they move look at the jobs lost and I hope Fla. Will have a bad financial decade. Disney please leave for the Repubs sake. Please leave.
Dennis C Rathsasm says
From your lips to gods ears…Let them go to hell! My family will not be back…And I sold all my stock, killed the channel. 1% of the population makes more problems, than the all the latino,s combined….Tell me whats fair here?
Desantis meddles in things that he shouldn’t. His job is to govern the state not to keep showing us his biases .
How dare DeSantis throws himself into my private domain, The Villages. I think Ron need’s to get his STD’s treated ASAP, his brain is being rotted away. He has no chance of beating me in any future election, I have the criminal experience to overcome the challenge of this lightweight, my Communist Escort can also haves sex with more more men women than your concubine and that translates into votes. The facts are very clear, you know it, I know it and everyone knows it.
@The idiot’s club for voting, aka duh Republican Party, monkey it up again
Floriduh’s version of Goober Pyle (apologies to the late George Lindsey) just keeps digging in his butt and flinging what he gets at the taxpayers:
Special district bill will leave Orange, Osceola taxpayers with Disney debt, Democrats say
Reedy Creek Improvement District has a bond debt of nearly $1 billion
“ORLANDO, Fla. – Democratic attempts to water down a bill that would dissolve six special districts in Florida, including Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District, failed in the Florida Senate Tuesday night.
Senate Minority Leader Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale, tried to amend SB 4-C so that instead of getting rid of the special districts next year, the state would conduct a study to determine what impacts the bill would have, if any…”
Education is when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get if you don’t.
— Pete Seeger
Been There says
For a Governor that’s all about personal choice for parents, he sure has a lot to say about how everyone should be running their lives. Guess what, Ron, just because you think its right, doesn’t mean it is and just because its right for you, doesn’t mean its right for everyone. He is just another extremist with a superiority complex.
Been There: Absolutely correct. He is being as Trumpian as he can be. Republicans have no agenda (I’m Independent) for governing, so they are just trying to oppose anything the Democrats do as a pacifier for their base. It works. They are easily distracted.
Unfortunately, DeSantis is creating problems where they don’t exist and will be going to court on the taxpayers dime. I don’t see how this is fiscally responsible. Oh well, the base will vote them in again.
VOTE NO for “Soviet DeSantis”.