The struggle continues between the state of Florida and Walt Disney World.
The last few months have been an incredibly tumultuous time for The Walt Disney Company. As soon as word got out that the company had actually backhandedly supported Florida’s controversial Parental Rights law, fans, employees, and leaders were stunned. Disney eventually took a stance against the bill which caused friction between the company and the state of Florida, with Gov. Ron DeSantis continuing to escalate the battle with incendiary words and potential actions.
In recent weeks, Gov. DeSantis heightened the stakes, publicly announcing he was considering terminating the special treatment Disney has been receiving due to the state’s Reedy Creek Improvement act.
This bill to dissolve the district has passed both Florida’s Senate and House of Representatives but recently, some concerned taxpayers have now possibly put a halt to this tense feud. As shared by The Hollywood Reporter, taxpayers filed a suit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over his recent actions against Disney and its Reedy Creek Improvement District.
Now, however, according to The Orlando Sentinel, a federal judge on Tuesday dismissed the lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis over the dissolution of Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District. The suit was filed last week by William Sanchez, a Miami lawyer and Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. Sanchez filed the suit on behalf of three residents of Orange and Osceola counties.
U.S. District Court Judge Cecilia Altonaga, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote that the suit was dismissed for several reasons. The lawsuit claimed that the state of Florida was violating a law called the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, as well as a contractual obligation with Reedy Creek’s bondholders and Disney’s First Amendment rights.
Altonaga wrote that the three plaintiffs, Michael and Edward Foronda of Kissimmee and Vivian Gorsky of Orange County, “do not plausibly allege they have suffered any concrete injury as a result of the alleged violation of Disney’s First Amendment rights, and nothing in the Complaint shows Plaintiffs have a close relationship with Disney.”
She also added that the new law, “does not apply to them, they do not allege direct harm as a result of the challenged law, and they do not plausibly allege any credible threat of direct harm in the future.”
Despite getting turned down, Sanchez pledged that he will refile on behalf of the plaintiffs by next Monday.
“This is just the beginning of the battle, as we are attempting to achieve justice for Florida taxpayers,” Sanchez wrote.
This complaint was filed over a week ago in Florida federal court by residents who live near Disney World, arguing that they will be stuck with at least $1 billion in Disney’s bond debt if the state follows through with its plan to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
We previously covered this debt, noting that taxpayers may get left with the bill if DeSantis is successful in terminating the district.
Put simply, concerned taxpayers were hoping to block this bill from gaining further traction. “It is without question that Defendant Governor DeSantis intended to punish Disney for a 1st Amendment protected ground of free speech,” reads the lawsuit. “Defendant’s violation of Disney’s 1st Amendment rights directly resulted in a violation of Plaintiffs’ 14th Amendment rights to due process of law.”
The Reedy Creek Improvement Act essentially allows Walt Disney World to reside in Florida unregulated, acting as its own “government” in a way. The act involved creating a special taxing district that acts with the same authority as a county government. The legislation made the claim that landowners within the Reedy Creek Improvement District, primarily Walt Disney World, could be allowed to be solely responsible for paying the cost of providing typical municipal services like power, water, roads, fire protection etc. Local taxpayers, meaning residents of Orange and Osceola County, would not have to pay for building or maintaining those services.
What do you think about all of the drama surrounding Florida and Disney?
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