TALLAHASSEE, Florida (LifeSiteNews) — Disney is set to lose control of its formerly self-governing district in Florida thanks to a new measure that would have Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis himself hand-picking the district’s new board of supervisors.
The move comes after the famously pro-LGBT “family” corporation got into hot water last year after opposing the Sunshine State’s legislation protecting young children from gender ideology.
DeSantis’ office announced Monday that the state was “dissolving the Corporate Kingdom by permanently eliminating Disney’s self-governing status, appointing a state-controlled board accountable to Floridians that can impose taxes on Disney for infrastructure projects, and ensuring Disney pays its own debts”.
Details below 👇👀 pic.twitter.com/tOgYePTXes
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) February 6, 2023
The announcement followed the filing of a new measure during the state’s special legislative session, which began Monday.
The bill would change the name of the district within which Disney World operates from the “Reedy Creek Improvement District” (RCID) to the “Central Florida Tourism Oversight District,” and give the Florida governor authority to select the five members of the district’s board. The Senate would need to sign off on those selections, Fox News reported.
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Disney has enjoyed a special governing status over its sprawling Orlando, Florida property, for over five decades after the passage of the Reedy Creek Improvement Act in May 1967. The special status has made the company exempt from tens of millions of dollars in taxes and fees over the decades, The Daily Wire reported.
Last year, however, the California-based corporation found its special status in the crosshairs of the conservative Florida government when Disney sided with radical LGBT activists in opposing the state’s Parental Rights in Education bill, which bans the teaching of LGBT ideology in Florida’s kindergarten through third grade classrooms.
In April 2022, Gov. DeSantis signed legislation to end the corporation’s self-governing status.
“If Disney wants to pick a fight, they chose the wrong guy,” he said. “I will not allow a woke corporation based in California to run our state.”
On Monday, however, former state Republican Rep. Anthony Sabatini criticized the new measure renaming and shifting board control of the district, arguing the proposed legislation didn’t go far enough.
According to Sabatini, the measure was a “massive capitulation” since, according to him, “Woke Disney” would be able “keep its nearly tax-free, regulation-free status — but with a different Board.”
LifeSiteNews reached out to DeSantis’ office for further comment regarding the proposal as well as its reaction to Sabatini’s criticism. This article will be updated if a response is provided.
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DeSantis himself provided further clarity during a Wednesday press conference in Ocala.
The Florida governor told reporters that “Disney’s gonna pay its debt” and explained that he’s consistently held that the corporation ought not to enjoy “self-government.”
“Disney is going to pay its fair share of taxes, and Disney’s going to honor the debt, and that’s exactly what this proposed piece of legislation will do,” he said.
“Disney is no longer going to have self-government. Disney is gonna pay their fair share of taxes and honor their debts. … This is now going to be controlled by the state of Florida. There’s a new sheriff in town.” – Governor @RonDeSantisFL 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/53o8iP5GrJ
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) February 8, 2023
DeSantis said that media outlets had been quick to argue last year that the state government’s move to strip Disney of its self-governing status would force Floridians to pay more taxes as a consequence, something he said isn’t true.
“They were saying that, and I’m like, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me.’ Well, this puts that to bed,” he said.
“So, there’s a new sheriff in town and that’s just the way it’s going to be,” DeSantis added to applause.