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Disney's Special District Status Revoked by Florida Lawmakers

On Friday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill dissolving Walt Disney Company's special district status in Florida. Florida Republican state Senator Jennifer Bradley first introduced the bill on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the bill passed the state senate with a vote of 23-16 and then was pushed through the House of Representatives by 70-38. By Thursday, the bill made its way to the Florida House. Florida Republicans quickly passed it. 


Governor DeSantis claims he wants to remove Disney's special protection because he doesn't "support special privileges in law just because a company is powerful." 


However, this is unlikely as the entertainment giant has publicly opposed the Florida Government and DeSantis on the "Don't Say Gay" law since last month. This law restricts education on LGBTQ issues such as sexual orientation or gender identity for kindergarten and third-grade students. This legislation also allows parents to sue schools directly if they feel an educator has broken the law.


After passing the "Don't Say Gay" bill, Disney issued a statement condemning the law. The report says, "Our goal as a company is for the law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that. We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family and the LGBTQ+ community in Florida across the country." 


This public statement comes as a result of an employee walkout that protested Disney's CEO Bob Chapek's initial silent response to the bill and the company reportedly giving money to the bill's sponsors. Chapek has since apologized and has paused all political donations in Florida. 


Due to the bill passing, Disney's special district status will be revoked on June 1, 2023. 


Disney was given the special district status in May 1967 after a law that allowed the Walt Disney Company to control and self-govern itself in a district that sits in southwest Orlando. The district, Reedy Creek, is a special purpose district that Disney was able to take over and provide municipal services like power, water, roads, and fire protection. The Walt Disney Company also freed the district from legal red tape and paying taxes for certain services. 


Dissolving the district could have harsh consequences for local county taxpayers. According to CNBC, counties will have "to raise property taxes by 20% to 25% to make up the difference." This means that local counties will have to pay for Reedy Creek's services without the special status in effect. 


Disney officials have yet to respond to legislation passing. 

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Tags: #law #Disney #DisneyParks #WaltDisneyWorld #Florida


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