Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Officially Gains Control of Disney’s Special District Board

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Ron DeSantis and Reedy Creek

Images Credit: ABC News (left) and Reedy Creek Fire Department (right)

The Florida Senate has officially passed a law changing how Walt Disney World Resort’s unique government works in the future.

Disney DeSantis
Credit: Inside The Magic

Following the passage of the Florida House of Representatives yesterday with a vote of 82-31, the bill proposed for the state to take over the Reedy Creek Improvement District has passed the Florida Senate with a vote of 26-9. The highly controversial bill is now set to go to the desk of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis next, who is expected to sign it into law.

The battle between Governor DeSantis and Disney has lasted for over a year. The dispute between the two began with Disney’s public stance against Florida’s HB 1557, the Parental Rights in Education bill, which was drafted to prohibit classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in K-3 classrooms and to require such conversations after third grade to be age-appropriate. After Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law in late March 2022, Disney immediately fired back with a statement condemning the bill’s passing and vowing to stand with those who endeavored to see the law repealed.

In April 2022, Florida lawmakers passed a law that would dissolve special tax districts in the Sunshine State before 1968, including the Reedy Creek Improvement District, Disney’s special tax district that effectively grants Disney the privilege of a self-governing status. The dissolution was set to be effective in the summer of 2023.

On Monday, the Florida House of Representatives passed their version of the law during a special session to discuss the state’s takeover of the Reedy Creek District. The new bill HB 9B, which saves Reedy Creek from dissolution, calls for several significant changes, including empowering Governor DeSantis to hand-pick board members for Reedy Creek and officially changing the district’s name to the “Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.”

Reedy Creek Fire Department
Credit: Reedy Creek Fire Department Website

The 189-page bill removes landowners’ ability to pick their board members and places restrictions on who can serve on the board for the district. Anyone with work experience with a Theme Park or entertainment complex in the previous three years would be ineligible to serve.

Critics in the past that opposed the law have said that the bill is less about revamping Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District, a move that would give the governor authority to appoint board members but more about settling a score with Disney.

Do you think Florida Governor Ron DeSantis should be in control of the Reedy Creek Imporvement District’s board?

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