The Florida Senate voted to strip Walt Disney World of its independent government during a special session on Wednesday.
If signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, the legislation will end the exemption of lands under Disney’s control from Florida land use regulations. The exemption was passed in 1967, creating the Reedy Creek Improvement District which currently contains all of Walt Disney World and the towns of Lake Buena Vista and Bay Lake.
The area is currently governed by a five-person board made up of Disney executives. Republican lawmakers are seeking to end the arrangement and place the region under Osceola and Orange county governance in retaliation for the Walt Disney Co.’s failed attempt to block Florida from passing laws banning any discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools. Disney’s reaction to the law has been met with scorn from all sides of the political spectrum, including the lunatic fringe.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings worried about moving could disrupt long-standing agreements between Disney and the county over payment for services.
“Disney has been a great community partner for the past 50+ years,” Demings said. “They reimbursed us 100% of the costs of the sheriff’s office, for example, which patrols the Reedy Creek Improvement District.”
Demings worries that new state-mandated arrangements could shift the costs to Orange County ratepayers.
In addition to Reedy Creek’s planned breakup, lawmakers also passed a bill ending Disney’s exemption from a law that would allow individuals to sue tech companies for being removed from their platforms. The bill, passed in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s Facebook ban, initially contained an exclusion for theme park companies, a clear endorsement for Disney.
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