Another day, another punch thrown in the war between Disney and Florida Republicans. In case you have not been following along, Disney and the Sunshine State have been in a heated battle over Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill. Disney has been outspoken against the bill, paused political donations in the state, and vowed to make sure that the bill is repealed in the courts. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his fellow Republicans in the state legislature are working hard to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement Act.
The Reedy Creek Improvement Act was passed in 1967 and essentially made Walt Disney World its own government. Disney is financially responsible for all necessary repairs, as well as paying for its own fire and medical. In return for not being a financial burden to the state, Disney is allowed to pass its own rules and create its own permits. They do not need permission from the state.
Many see DeSantis’ actions as punitive and shortsighted — he wants to punish Disney because they did something that he didn’t like. And both the Florida House and State Senate agreed with DeSantis and passed legislation to dissolve Reedy Creek. It will go to the Governor’s desk, and after he signs it into law, would be effective June 1, 2023.
While DeSantis might want to hurt Disney, it is very unlikely that that will happen. He will more than likely just annoy The House of Mouse and end up costing the Florida taxpayers a lot of money in legal fees. According to Florida law, a special district created by the legislature — Reedy Creek, for example — can only be dissolved by a majority vote from the landowners in the district. In this case, the district landowners would be The Walt Disney Company, and they won’t vote to dissolve.
Several Florida Democrats voiced their frustration at having to fight a bill that violates Florida law in the first place. Per a report from CNBC:
“Nothing is going to happen,” said Jason Pizzo, a democrat who represents the state’s 38th Senate district, during the special session Wednesday. “Everyone in this room knows this is not going to happen. I’m just tired of missing my kid’s baseball games for stuff we know is not going to happen.”
Pizzo was among several state senators who spoke out against the bill ahead of the senate vote Wednesday. Many expressed frustration during discussion on the legislature floor, calling the legislation a “revenge bill” and “political theater.”
″[The governor] wants to prove a point,” Stewart said. “He wants to prove he’s more powerful, but I don’t think he’s more powerful than Disney.”
Even if Governor DeSantis signs the bill, Disney will fight it and then lawyers for both the state and Disney will have to spend hours going back and forth over whether or not it’s legal. It will cost both sides a lot of money, which doesn’t seem fiscally responsible for the state when they know the legislation is not technically legal, to begin with.