Florida’s Republican-led House voted on Thursday to eliminate a special taxing district that allows Walt Disney Co. to govern the land where its theme park is located. (Disclosure: The Daily Wire has announced plans for kids entertainment content.)
The bill passed in a 70-38 vote and is now being sent to Governor Ron DeSantis’ (R) office to be signed into law after Florida’s Senate approved the measure yesterday.
The special district, known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, exempts Disney from numerous regulations and taxes and fees which reportedly saves the company tens of millions of dollars per year.
Disney’s ability to govern the area was created when the Reedy Creek Improvement Act was signed into law in May 1967. The local government did not have the resources needed to help bring Disney’s 25,000 acre plan to fruition so the Reedy Creek Improvement District was established to give Disney the same authority as a county-level government.
House Speaker Chris Sprowls noted that the decision to push the legislation came in response to Disney opposing the “Parental Rights in Education” bill.
“They used their platform to perpetuate what we believe to be a lie, which is that the bill did one thing that it really didn’t do at all,” Sprowls said. “I think the governor’s anger was well placed.”
The New York Times highlighted the power that Disney holds in the state of Florida:
Disney employs 38 lobbyists in Florida’s capital. Each election cycle, the company gives generous campaign contributions to Florida candidates from both sides of the political aisle. Its theme park mega-resort near Orlando attracts more than 50 million visitors a year, powering a Central Florida tourism economy that annually generates more than $5 billion in local and state tax revenue.
“If Disney wants to pick a fight, they chose the wrong guy,” DeSantis wrote in a fund-raising email this week. “I will not allow a woke corporation based in California to run our state,” he continued.
DeSantis has previously stated that he opposed the special taxing district because he opposes entities receiving special treatment.
“What I would say as a matter of first principle is I don’t support special privileges in law just because a company is powerful and they’ve been able to wield a lot of power,” DeSantis said during a press conference last month. “I think what has happened is there’s a lot of these special privileges that are not justifiable, but because Disney had held so much sway, they were able to sustain a lot of special treatment over the years.”
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This report has been updated to include additional information.