More than six months ago, Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that would officially dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement Act. The Improvement Act was passed in 1967 and essentially allowed Disney to function as its own government. Reedy Creek’s dissolution means that Disney will have to go through the state of Florida for all Walt Disney World-related projects it wants to begin and permits it might need.
The dissolution came in response to Disney CEO Bob Chapek speaking out against the passing of Florida’s Parental Rights In Education Bill. Many called the dissolution of Reedy Creek a retaliatory move and questioned its legality.
While the Reedy Creek Improvement Act is set to end in June 2023, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has not said what will happen when Reedy Creek no longer exists. He has not explained what will happen to Reedy Creek employees, and he has not presented a plan on how Reedy Creek’s debt will not be passed on to Florida taxpayers — although he has promised it won’t.
However, that could soon change. Thanks to a special session of the Florida legislature that is expected to take place in December — not long after the midterm elections.
The Orlando Business Journal spoke to David Ramba — an executive director with the Florida Association of Special Districts — who said that there are several things that could happen with regard to Reedy Creek during the special session.
Reedy Creek Improvement District officials told Orlando Business Journal that not much is known on the future of more than 400 direct and indirect workers at the Reedy Creek Improvement District nor on any timeline for the district’s replacement.
However, those conversations are happening in Tallahassee and may even come up during a planned special session after the November election, said David Ramba, executive director with the Florida Association of Special Districts Inc.
Ramba said he has given advice regarding the special districts in some discussions happening between state leaders.
“They are working on a plan. [State leaders] will have a special session in December on insurance, and they could add this to the call to adjust that [sunset dates] portion of the bill,” he told OBJ.
There are several options for the direction state lawmakers may decide to take, which include the following:
- The state doesn’t necessarily have to honor the June 2023 dissolution date, as that can be delayed easily with a vote to buy the discussions another year, if need be, said Ramba.
- The state could simply amend certain powers of the Reedy Creek district — such as its ability to build a nuclear power plant — and forgo the dissolution plan, he said.
- Another approach could be lengthy. If the state — or local governments, if the duty was passed to them — tried to change the wording in the district’s charter or completely replace it, that would require a 30-day public notice, discussions and approvals by delegations in the affected counties — Orange and Osceola counties — and other processes needed before a vote were allowed, which could drag out a solution, said Ramba.
While multiple experts have said that the dissolution of Reedy Creek will be disastrous for the state of Florida, Ramba said that people should not worry, as he is confident that Governor DeSantis will not let anything “implode”. Ramba also believes that Disney will walk away with a district that allows it to keep most of its privileges while putting smaller businesses on a more even playing field.