It has been quite a year and quite a battle between The Walt Disney Company and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Disney and the state of Florida had always enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship, but that took a nosedive earlier this year. Things started to decline when Governor DeSantis signed into law the Parental Rights in Education bill, which is also called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Critics of the bill said that it targeted the LGBTQ+ community and Disney condemned the bill, saying that the company would work to see it overturned.
From there, things quickly went from bad to worse. DeSantis shot back that Disney does not dictate how things run in the state, and he and fellow Florida Republicans passed a bill dissolving the Reedy Creek Improvement Act. The Reedy Creek Act allowed The Walt Disney Company to essentially act as its own government. With the dissolution of the act, Disney will have to go to the state for anything it wants to accomplish and any projects it wants to do.
The big problem with dissolving the Reedy Creek Act is the bond debt that Disney/Reedy Creek currently has. Should Reedy Creek be dissolved, the bond debt would be passed on to certain Florida taxpayers. Some of those taxpayers did not think that DeSantis had the right to hoist a massive debt onto their plates, so they filed a lawsuit. The first lawsuit was dismissed, but the suit was quickly refiled, and that one has not been dismissed as quickly.
On August 22, DeSantis and the other state agencies named in the lawsuit asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit. According to the Orlando Business Journal, representatives for DeSantis and the agencies said that taxpayers could not prove how their rights would be infringed upon if Reedy Creek was dismissed.
“Yet, no tax increase related to SB 4-C has been proposed or imposed on plaintiffs. Their complaint utterly fails to identify sufficient ultimate facts showing how the potential dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District pursuant to state law — assuming such dissolution were to occur — could plausibly infringe on their rights as taxpayers.”
The defendants also claim that the plaintiffs have no right to demand that the state not dissolve Reedy Creek in the first place.
“Plaintiffs have no legal right to prohibit the State of Florida from dissolving governmental entities created by state law. Yet Plaintiffs’ premature, scattershot complaint attempts to do just that; it challenges the legality of SB 4-C, a facially neutral general law that uniformly dissolves certain pre-1968 independent special districts effective June 1, 2023, based solely on speculative injuries that are completely disconnected from any cause of action. Plaintiffs make no allegation that the potential impacts they face from SB 4-C going into effect by operation of law on June 1, 2023, are a result of defendants and not some intervening cause such as the operation of law or the potential future decision making of county officials.”
Now, what is interesting here is that, in his request for dismissal, DeSantis seemed to indicate that Reedy Creek may not end up being dissolved. Insiders had previously reported that DeSantis didn’t really care if Reedy Creek ended up being dissolved because he was using the bill’s passage as a win. There are also many experts who believe that, in the end, dissolving the Reedy Creek Improvement Act will not happen as it would be illegal to do so because the dissolution move was seen as retaliatory.