The long and fruitful marriage between the Walt Disney Company and the state of Florida appears to be on the rocks.
Mere weeks after Disney sided publicly with its homosexual and homosexual-supporting employees against Florida, which had just adopted a law barring discussion of homosexuality and gender identity with young schoolchildren, Florida elected officials are taking away the entertainment giant’s lavish privileges in their state.
The Republican-led Florida Senate approved a bill on April 20 to eliminate Disney’s special tax district that has allowed the company to self-govern its land.
The Florida House is also expected to vote for the legislation after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on April 19 that lawmakers will be “considering termination of all special districts that were announced in Florida prior to 1968 — and that includes the Reedy Creek Improvement District.”
The special tax district gives Disney wide-ranging autonomy, including over local police and fire departments on the sprawl of land that its theme park occupies in Orlando. The arrangement saves the company tens of millions of dollars a year in exemptions from various regulations, taxes and fees, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a person familiar with the company’s finances. The article was cited by The New York Post.
The Reedy Creek Improvement District was created in 1967 in an effort to “support and administer” various aspects of “economic development and tourism within District boundaries.”
The agreement also made Disney responsible for overseeing environmental protections and public services, as well as operating and keeping up public roads and bridges.
The legislation, which the Sanate passed 23-16, would end the arrangement in June 2023. It would impact some six districts in the state, but Reedy Creek is the only one linked to such a high-profile company, the Journal reported.