Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis recorded yet another win on Tuesday, as a judge threw out a lawsuit challenging the governor’s law that revoked special privileges enjoyed by Disney World.
DeSantis had signed State Bill 4-C, on April 22. which required Disney to obey building inspections and planning and zoning controls under Osceola and Orange counties. The bill will go into effect in July 2022.
“I’m just not comfortable having that type of agenda get special treatment in my state,” DeSantis said at the time of the signing.
SB 4-C targets the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which provides utilities and other services to Walt Disney World; Reedy Creek, Lake Buena Vista, and Bay Lake all were founded on May 12, 1967.
“Reedy Creek, which has a permanent population of about 50, as well as its own board of supervisors and fire department, allows Disney to construct new buildings and expand its parks without having to adhere to state or county regulations related to construction, wastewater management and drainage,” The Wall Street Journal noted. “It encompasses four theme parks, two water parks, a sports complex and hotels, stores and restaurants.”
“You’ll notice you never see potholes when you drive up to Walt Disney World. That’s because Disney doesn’t have to wait for the county to come fix them,” David Ramba, executive director of the Florida Association of Special Districts, told the Journal. “Reedy Creek is probably the most efficient local government in Florida, because it’s not a typical bureaucracy. It’s run like a business.”
The bill states “any independent special district established by a special act prior to the date of ratification of the Florida Constitution on November 5, 1968,and which was not reestablished, re-ratified, or otherwise reconstituted by a special act or general law after November 5, 1968, is dissolved effective June 1, 2023.”
The complaint dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge Cecilia Altonaga originated from three residents of Orange and Osceola counties who claimed S.B. 4-C unconstitutionally threatened residents with higher taxes and abridged free speech rights, Fox Business noted.
The plaintiffs “do not plausibly allege they have suffered any concrete injury as a result of the alleged violation of Disney’s First Amendment rights, and nothing in the Complaint shows Plaintiffs have a close relationship with Disney,” Altonaga wrote, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
SB 4-C “does not apply to them, they do not allege direct harm as a result of the challenged law, and they do not plausibly allege any credible threat of direct harm in the future,” Altonaga added.
Disney “provided most of the $153 million in revenue from taxes and fees that the district collected in fiscal 2021,” the Journal explained. “That money covers all of the district’s governing expenses, including paying about 400 employees’ salaries and servicing about $977 million in long-term bond debt that Reedy Creek has issued over the years.”