Ron DeSantis To Strip Disney of Special Powers

Ron DeSantis To Strip Disney of Special Powers

( – Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has exerted significant political might pushing back against woke causes over the last couple of years. He declared war on Disney in 2022 by signing a new law (SB 4-C) dissolving the company’s decades-long control of the Reedy Creek tax district after Disney’s former CEO spoke out against the state’s new Parental Rights in Education Act (HB 1557). Most recently, DeSantis called a special legislative session to finalize the details of the revocation of Disney’s special powers over the district.

On February 6, Florida State Rep. Fred Hawkins (R-District 42) introduced a new bill (HB 9B) to strip Disney of several of its special powers in the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Perhaps most significantly, the measure turns control over to a five-person state board of supervisors appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate.

The governing jurisdiction’s name would change to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District if passed into law. Additionally, SB 9B would prohibit anyone employed by Disney or other theme parks within the last three years, and their family members, from serving on the district’s board.

Although the new bill would reshape the district’s leadership structure, it doesn’t dissolve Reedy Creek, and Disney would retain most of its current exemptions from taxes, fees, and a host of regulations. Likewise, it would allow the entertainment company to act as its own government in most ways and wouldn’t eliminate its ability to issue bonds.

Under the new bill, the board would assign a chief executive to oversee the district’s day-to-day operations. PBS reported that Richard Foglesong, a Rollins College professor emeritus and author, said Disney wouldn’t like the new measure because it strips the company of its current control over the district.

However, he also questioned the ability of the new board of supervisors to manage operations, considering its unique nature. For instance, local building inspectors must routinely examine complex structures housing Walt Disney World Resort’s thrill rides.

Additionally, district officials need to manage the nearly 350,000 daily visitors to the 27,000-acre theme park, maintain waste operations, regulate traffic, and perform various other unique tasks.

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