Florida lawmakers handed Governor DeSantis a symbolic victory in his dispute with Disney over his opposition to the new parental rights in education law by approving a bill Thursday to dissolve the Walt Disney Company’s private governance.
If Gov. DeSantis enacts the bill, as expected, the Reedy Creek special district, as the entertainment giant’s government is known, would be dissolved as of June 1, 2023, according to CNBC reported.
Disney World’s designation as a special taxing district is a privilege the company has had for 55 years, which has allowed it to govern itself.
The bill to revoke the privilege passed the Florida Senate Wednesday by a vote of 23 to 16, ending with the state House of Representatives vote approving it 70 to 38.
De Santis is in a bitter dispute with Disney over the company’s criticism of Florida’s recently enacted HB 1557, which prohibits kindergarteners from being taught about sexuality and gender ideology and teaching and disseminating content that is not age-appropriate.
The bill was pushed Tuesday by Republican state Sen. Jennifer Bradley and quickly saw approval from the conservative majority.
Democratic state senators came to Disney’s defense on Wednesday, calling the decision “based on spite.”
State Rep. Randy Fine told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Thursday that the bill is not retaliatory, arguing that “People wanted to deal with the special district for decades.” Still, Disney had, until now, used its “political power to prevent it.”
“What changed is bringing California values to Florida. Floridians said ’You are a guest. Maybe you don’t deserve the special privileges anymore.'”
The Reedy Creek district was approved in 1967 by the Florida state legislature and given 27,000 acres (11,000 hectares) of land to create Walt Disney World.
The company became the largest employer in the state, with 60,000 workers. CNBC said that upon the dissolution of the district, Reedy Creek’s employees and infrastructure would be absorbed by local counties.