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Florida Republicans Target Disney In Continued Act of Revenge

Florida Republicans Target Disney In Continued Act of Revenge

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Disney World

Because they couldn't do it right the first time, Republicans in Florida are trying again to get back at Disney for opposing DeSantis's anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

Cwnewser

Last year, Republican lawmakers in Florida proposed dissolving Disney’s special taxing district after the company criticized the state’s governor for enacting an anti-LGBTQ+ law. On Monday, GOP lawmakers proposed renaming the district and letting Gov. Ron DeSantis choose who runs it.

Under House Bill 9B, released Monday afternoon, Reedy Creek Improvement District will be changed to Central Florida Tourism Oversight District within two years.

It is yet another chapter in DeSantis’ troubling saga with Disney after the company opposed Florida’s Parental Rights in Education, better known as the “don’t say gay” law, last year.

Disney World has been governed by Reedy Creek, a special taxing district controlled by Disney and based in Orlando, since 1967. DeSantis attacked Reedy Creek after the company criticized his administration and the law.

Reedy Creek was planned to be “dissolved” by June this year under a law passed at his urging. But lawmakers did not specify how the state would handle Disney’s nearly $1 billion in bond debt, which would fall on Orange and Osceola counties if Disney’s ability to tax itself were taken away, leaving residents with the bill.

According to Reedy Creek, the legislation violates a “pledge” given to the district when the state established it. Reedy Creek will continue to function under its new name but is not dissolved by this week’s proposed legislation.

In a statement, Walt Disney World Resort president Jeff Vahle said the company was monitoring the legislation, the Tampa Bay Timesreports.

“Disney works under a number of different models and jurisdictions around the world, and regardless of the outcome, we remain committed to providing the highest quality experience for the millions of guests who visit each year,” Vahle said.

This legislation does not disband Reedy Creek but strips Disney of control over the 39-square-mile district in Orange and Osceola counties. The company currently chooses five members to serve on the district’s governing board, which can create a fire department and secure land, among other things. Under the proposal, the governor will appoint board members to four-year terms, with a maximum of three terms. Individuals who worked at a theme park or one of its subcontractors during the past five years are not eligible to serve.

Disney may challenge the bill if it becomes law since it stands to lose control over a number of functions at its Orlando theme parks.

Cwnewser
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Christopher Wiggins

Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).
Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).