Florida Legislature Votes To Repeal Special District For Walt Disney World After Company’s Opposition To ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law

Florida Legislature Votes To Repeal Special District For Walt Disney World After Company’s Opposition To ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law

April 21, 2022

The Walt Disney Co. is poised to lose the 55-year-old special district that covers Walt Disney World, as Florida lawmakers moved to punish the company for its opposition to the state’s new parental rights law, which detractors have dubbed the “don’t say gay” law.

The Florida House voted 70-38 on a bill to dissolve the district as well as others established before 1968. The Senate passed the measure on Wednesday.

Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, supports the repeal effort and asked lawmakers to consider it during their special session this week. He has accused the company, one of the state’s largest employers, of going “woke,” but LGBTQ+ activists see the parental rights bill as yet another chapter in efforts to tarnish gay, lesbian and transgender people as threats to children.

Disney’s property has been covered by the Reedy Creek Improvement District since 1967, giving it self-governance over land use and environmental issues and allowing it to float tax-free municipal bonds. Democrats said that the repeal of the district could leave Osceola and Orange counties on the hook for nearly $1 billion in bond debt.

Supporters of the repeal effort said that the time had come for the legislature to gain oversight over the district. Under the terms of the legislation, districts could seek to be reactivated after they are dissolved.

But the move has been seen as an effort to punish Disney for speaking out on the law.

Lloyd Blankfein, senior chairman of Goldman Sachs, wrote on Twitter on Thursday, “In 1967 Florida granted special governance and tax status to Disney World. Maybe that was bad policy. But to revoke it because @GovRonDeSantis objects to Disney’s position on unrelated legislation smacks of govt retaliation for exercising free speech. Bad look for a conservative.”

More to come.

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