Disney’s iconic monorail system would face periodic state inspections, as Republican lawmakers continue to back Gov. Ron DeSantis in his clash with the entertainment giant.
Voting along party lines, the Republican-controlled Senate Fiscal Policy Committee, chaired by Travis Hutson, who represents Flagler County, on Tuesday amended a transportation bill (SB 1250) to apply Department of Transportation safety standards to monorail lines that connect Walt Disney World resorts and parks.
Senate Transportation Chairman Nick DiCeglie, an Indian Rocks Beach Republican who is sponsoring the bill, said state oversight should include the system handling a large number of tourists a day. DiCeglie noted the department has oversight for the tram at Orlando International Airport, adding, “I’m confident that the folks who are going to conduct these inspections are going to be qualified to do so.”
The plan would require audits, compliance reports conducted every three years and an annual onsite evaluation.
Disney and other large theme parks conduct their own safety inspections because of a carve-out from oversight by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The department inspects amusement-park rides except at facilities or parks that have more than 1,000 employees and full-time inspectors on staff.
Tuesday’s amendment to the transportation bill was the latest salvo in a feud that began last year after Disney publicly opposed a controversial state law that restricts instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. Lawmakers titled the measure the “Parental Rights in Education” law, but critics labeled it the “don’t say gay” bill.
After the opposition, DeSantis and Republican lawmakers initially moved to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which the state created in the 1960s and essentially gave Disney control over issues such as land use, fire protection and sewer services that are typically handled by local governments.
In February, lawmakers passed a DeSantis-backed bill that instead shifted control of the district away from Disney and allowed DeSantis to appoint a five-member Board of Supervisors. The bill also renamed the district as the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.
After new board members were seated, however, they realized the former Reedy Creek board during publicly advertised meetings had turned over many of its powers to Disney through agreements.
Last week, lawmakers approved amendments to development bills (HB 439 and SB 1604) that seek to override the agreements Disney reached with the outgoing Reedy Creek board members.
The changes Tuesday to the transportation bill would require state oversight of “any governmentally or privately owned fixed-guideway transportation systems operating in this state which are located within an independent special district created by a local act which have boundaries within two contiguous counties.”
The state already requires Department of Transportation safety standards for governmentally owned fixed-guideway systems and systems that are privately owned but funded all or in part by the state.
The Disney monorail system, opened in 1971, covers nearly 15 miles and handles more than 50 million passengers a year, according to the company. The monorail cars were last updated in 1989.
The lone fatality tied to the system occurred in 2009 when an operator was killed in a collision between trains on the EPCOT line.
DiCeglie’s bill is now ready to go to the Senate floor. A similar transportation package (HB 1305) is expected to appear Thursday on the House floor, though that version doesn’t address Disney.
–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida
Charlie Blizard says
The inspection of Disney’s transportation system including monorail, boats, buses etc is at the discretion of Reedy Creek (Disney). There have been so many accidents and incidents that have been settled with NDA’s it’s a serious safety issue
Please enlighten us with documentation to substantiate your claims. And please, use facts, not hearsay. Then I would ask that you demonstrate how having the state involved in the inspection process would have altered the numbers and severity of the incidents you suggest have occurred.
Denali: As usual, you’ll hear crickets. Whenever these people come up with these so called claims, they disappear when confronted, then, come back again, with alternate facts, elsewhere.
Laurel – I know but sometimes I just cannot resist the urge to take up space in their heads. I should be ashamed of myself.
Don’t be ashamed, Denali. If you didn’t take up space in their brains their heads would be totally empty. So you’re doing them a service!
Denali: I know, me too. We’re trying to reason with people who think that the man who said “I can shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, and get away with it” is a victim.
January 23, 2016, the actual quote: “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn’t lose any voters, ok? It’s, like, incredible.”
Technically Trump was speaking about voters and not whether he could “get away with it”.
What I find amazing, is that DeSantis and his Republican lackeys have made me root for Disney.
I hope and pray on my parents graves that Disney says FU to Florida. I know it will not happen but it would make my day. The biggest employer of the state leaves. Should help DuhSatan’s ratings.
DeSantis and his ilk consistently demonstrate an authoritarian, mean-spirited and vengeful streak that is unbecoming for people in government “service” and certainly unbecoming for leaders who labor for the public good — both Democrat and Republican, and both those who share his views and those who find them antithetical to their own — in the so-called “free” State of Florida. The GOP, which for 150 years has always boasted its credentials as wanting and promoting less government oversight, is going out of its way in DeSantis’s Florida to punish Disney simply because our thin-skinned governor didn’t like Disney’s expression of free-speech on the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Well, tough on you, DeSantis. You are showing the American public that you are not a giant for freedom but rather a small, little man with a swelled head, perched momentarily and precariously in a big chair, too big for your unpleasant occupancy. Be advised: The national electorate will soon repudiate you and your ambitions; your numbers are crashing, even as we sit here each and every day and ruefully shake our heads at your inane approach to governance. And realize this: you will even crash and burn– even in our increasingly Red-State of Florida. The more people see of you, hear from you, and view your undemocratic and authoritarian diktats and actions, the more they loathe and will ultimately repudiate you; right minded people on both sides of the political spectrum will soon put an end to your style of autocratic and petty governing, and will end your political “career.” Mark my words, YOU WILL FAIL.
Agree 100% and I’m a republican, which this governor makes me embarrassed to say that!
MeToo: Just being a Floridian has become embarrassing.
Dennis C Rathsam says
So sad…. All you folks still cant get over it…. De Santis won by a landslide! I think the majority has spoken. Obviously you sore losers think you know better than the people of our state. I think not, your all in the minority and cant except the truth. Maybe you all should focus on better choice for governor next time. After all so far youve picked winners….Gilliam, Christ, and the man in the moon. Truth be told, the Fla democrats have no decent candidates on the horizon.
@dr. . . You have a track record of justifying almost anything that is “popular”. I remember you defending FOX and their blasting of hate filled lies, conspiracy theories, and misinformation by saying FOX is the most “popular” media outlet in the US. Now this defense of DeSantis because he won the election. Need I remind you that Hitler was very, very “popular” in Germany, and Putin is very, very popular in Russia!? My, my, my such shallow, angry thinking. . . like “Lemmings to the Sea”! You are the perfect foil for FOX and the fascism of DeSantis. . . so easily brainwashed.
@ dr. . . Oh yes. . . I would also like to point out that intelligent people learn from their mistakes and voting for DeSantis is a huge one. Hopefully, that will never happen again!
Although, i do agree with you that unfortunately the Democrats lack a pipeline of “good” candidates for public office.
This isn’t an “election winner v loser issue”. The problem is that using government power to punish private business is unacceptable, regardless of which party does it. Threatening to put a prison next to a theme park is at best childish and at worst, blackmail. Why I think DeSantis is an awful governor and would make a worse president is for a different discussion.
Amazon distribution center is also on the hit list after Disney…?
Pierre Tristam says
And Barnes & Nobles.
Well, books, you know.