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Disney in Trouble: Florida Senate Passes Bill to Strip Tax Privileges

Disney, El American

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The Florida Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that will prevent The Walt Disney Company from continuing to operate its properties independently in a special district and subject the company to state and Orange and Osceola County laws.

SB 4-C bill, introduced by Rep. Randy Fine of Brevard County, dissolves six special districts, including the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which governs Disney World.

Gov. Ron DeSantis expanded the Senate Special Session Tuesday to give Fine the opportunity to introduce the bill. The senator said “Disney is a guest in Florida” and that Floridians “are reminded” of that with the decision.

DeSantis’ move is in response to Disney’s boycott of the Parental Rights in Education Bill, which was recently passed to prevent the sexualization of children in schools. It also prohibits the instruction of sexual content and gender ideology to children from kindergarten through third grade.

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In a statement issued by the company on its official networks and website, Disney said its goal was to “strike down” the law or have it “repealed” by the legislature.

DeSantis then responded to Disney that they don’t govern Florida and never will as long as he is governor. “They support sexualizing kids in kindergarten. They support injecting woke gender ideology into second-grade classrooms,” the Republican told Tucker Carlson in late March.

Tearing down Disney’s self-governance

The state of Florida defines a special district as “a unit of local government created for a special purpose, as opposed to a general purpose, which has jurisdiction to operate within a limited geographic boundary and is created by general law, special act, local ordinance, or by rule of the Governor and Cabinet.”

Reedy Creek Improvement District was created in 1967 by the State Legislature for the purpose of “to support and administer certain aspects of the economic development and tourism within District boundaries.” It granted Disney World the authority to make its own decisions regarding architectural standards, expansion plans, fire protection, waste collection and water treatment facilities, in addition to a tax exemption.

According to the text, SB 4-C will dissolve “any independent special district established by a special act prior to the date of ratification of the Florida Constitution on November 5, 1968, and which was not reestablished, re-ratified, or otherwise reconstituted by a special act or general law after November 5, 1968.”

From June 1, 2023, when the law will take effect, Disney will lose control of the 25,000 acres of district territory on which it was allowed to build new structures and pay impact fees for such construction without the approval of a local planning commission.

The bill includes a special measure to remove the Disney exception to the Big Tech anti-censorship law signed by DeSantis in 2021.

The state House must vote to approve or disapprove the bill this Thursday before it reaches DeSantis’ desk to be executed with his signature.