TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Legislature, with the backing of Governor Ron DeSantis, have announced their plan to introduce a bill that, if ultimately passed, would replace the Reedy Creek Improvement Act – the bill passed in 1967 that allows Disney World to self-govern its own property – with a law that would place the world-famous amusement park’s land under state control.
The bill would create a state-run board – whose members would be appointed by the governor – to oversee the 25,000 acre, Orange and Osceola County-based property of Disney for the sake of leveling the playing field for Florida’s business community, according to DeSantis’ communications director, Taryn Fenske.
“The corporate kingdom has come to an end,” she said. “Under the proposed legislation, Disney will no longer control its own government, will live under the same laws as everyone else, will be responsible for their outstanding debts, and will pay their fair share of taxes. Imposing a state-controlled board will also ensure that Orange County cannot use this issue as a pretext to raise taxes on Orange County residents.”
Disney’s special jurisdiction – known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District – has reportedly accumulated $700 million dollars in unsecured debt, which the entertainment giant would be forced to pay if the proposed legislation is passed.
The news of this bill comes after DeSantis signed a separate bill into law that removed Walt Disney World’s special governing power in retaliation for the company publicly coming out against the “Parental Rights in Education” law – referred to by some as the “Don’t Say Gay” law – which prohibits classroom discussion of gender and sexuality between teachers and younger students.
DeSanis’ former chief of staff, Adrian Lukis, agreed with DeSantis’ support of the newly-proposed legislation.
“Disney can no longer have its own government and own taxing authority, and Disney – not taxpayers – will have to be responsible for any financial consequences,” he said. “While this will be painful for Disney, I expect businesses throughout the state will be proud of their governor for making it clear that he doesn’t care who you are, or how politically connected you may be — no one gets special treatment in Florida.”