DeSantis Moves Against Disney’s Special Status in Florida

DeSantis Moves Against Disney’s Special Status in Florida

The ongoing feud between and witnessed a significant escalation Tuesday. Ahead of a special legislative session, the governor urged lawmakers to end the children’s entertainment giant’s special status to operate as an independent government within its Orlando-area theme parks and resorts.

DeSantis’ announcement, broadcast on television from The Villages came hours before the Legislature convened to vote on a new congressional map that could lead to Republicans picking up as many as four seats in November. The development means besides voting on DeSantis’ proposed map, members of the state legislature will consider repealing the governing structure enjoyed by Florida’s Disney properties for more than 50 years.


As USA Today reports:

Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District was created by the Legislature in 1967. It spans two counties and 25,000 acres, and gives the company broad powers to control what happens on Disney property. Reedy Creek levies taxes and controls everything from roads to the water and electric systems in a 38.5-square-mile area covering four theme parks, two water parks, more than 40,000 hotel rooms and a slew of restaurants and retail stores.

Disney company officials did not immediately respond to DeSantis’ announcement.

Republicans lawmakers and DeSantis began criticizing Disney’s governing structure after the company’s CEO spoke out against HB 1557, the legislation officially known as the Parental Rights in Education act but derided by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Near the end of his remarks, DeSantis said that the special session will also address the law it passed last year to protect Floridians from capricious censorship.

Reflecting on the importance of bill, the governor said “Some of the things we did in that bill was not allow big tech companies to ban candidates for office because you really could have a situation where someone down the stretch, you have all these Senate races or something, and what are they going to do? They’re going to de-platform all the Republican nominees to be able to help their party?”

DeSantis recently hinted at repealing the 55-year-old state law that enables Disney to govern itself, as Fox News noted in March:

“What I would say as a matter of first principle is I don’t support special privileges in law just because a company is powerful and they’ve been able to wield a lot of power,” DeSantis said during a press conference last month.

The GOP currently dominates the Florida Legislature with a 77-42 majority in the House of Representatives and a 24-16 majority in the Senate.

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