Florida's Desantis Increases the Pressure on Disney World

Florida’s Desantis Increases the Pressure on Disney World

Florida’s Desantis Increases the Pressure on Disney World: The debate over discussing LGBTQ topics in Florida’s schools last year is still going strong, according to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), who hinted on Friday that he intends to seek state officials to exercise authority over unique local government powers that were formerly held by Disney World.

The largest theme park in Florida is governed by a taxing district, according to a notice posted on a county government website in Florida. State lawmakers will be asked to vote on expanding state oversight of the taxing district during the 2019 legislative session.

After chastising Disney World for opposing a rule he had supported that restricts how educators may discuss LGBTQ topics in the classroom, DeSantis signed a bill last year that eliminated the Reedy Creek Improvement District at Disney World. Disney is permitted by the district to function as a quasi-governmental organization, constructing roads and obtaining taxes.

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Experts cautioned that abandoning the agreement would have serious economic repercussions. The planned legislation was disclosed by Taryn Fenske, a DeSantis spokesperson, in a tweet on Friday that read, “The corporate kingdom has come to an end.” A request for a response from Disney was not immediately complied with.

Conflicts over “improvement districts” hardly ever make headlines. But the conflict over this particular district has attracted national attention because it is perceived as a proxy conflict between DeSantis and Disney as a result of the latter’s vocal opposition to the contentious Parental Rights in Education Act, also known as the “don’t say gay” bill by detractors.

Disney has objected to the legislation preventing gender-related topics from being taught to students under the third grade. DeSantis turned it into a matter of a culture war, branding the business as “woke Disney” and asserting that it had “stepped the line.”

The bill to dissolve Reedy Creek was sponsored by Republican state representative Randy Fine, who noted that the notice released on Friday is far from being a bill and that many specifics still need to be worked out. This demonstrates that work is being done and that a bill will soon be issued, according to Fine. Making this special district identical to every other special district in the state is the aim.

Walt Disney envisioned creating a “city of tomorrow” atop Florida citrus orchards, complete with homes and other enterprises that would, in part, fund his grandiose theme park plans. This is how Reedy Creek came to be more than 50 years ago. Residents would have a say in Reedy Creek’s management.

Only a few dozen people lived in the two little incorporated cities inside Walt Disney World’s boundaries when it took off and became the most well-known theme park in the entire world, and all of the voters had some connection to Disney.

Some local politicians have long complained about Disney’s near-total control over the 25,000 acres that surround its theme parks in Florida, but the corporation has been shielded from these complaints by the company’s strong lobbying presence in Tallahassee. Before the state’s legislative session in March, Fine stated further information will be released when a law is introduced in the upcoming weeks.

According to DeSantis, neither the local counties nor the state would raise taxes to pay for the $100 million in annual running costs nor the $1 billion in debt that Reedy Creek is currently responsible for. However, specifics on the management of the finances are ambiguous.

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The way Disney has always conducted business in Florida won’t likely undergo significant changes, according to Central Florida attorney Jacob Schumer who specializes in bond markets. As long as Reedy Creek exists, it will be unique in some way, according to Schumer. They won’t take any significant action since doing so would give bondholders and the federal government grounds to sue the state.