Florida lawmakers have voted to strip Disney of its special status as a self-governing area as the war between Governor Ron DeSantis and the company rumbles on.
The Republican led House gave final passage to a bill that would end the Reedy Creek Improvement District, meaning the firm will no longer be able operate as a self-contained government.
‘It seems as [though] Mickey and Minnie have joined us in the chamber today,’ State Rep. Randy Fine, who sponsored the bill, said Thursday ahead of the vote as the sound of yelling filled the chamber.
The House passed the measure with a 68-38 vote after the Senate backed the bill by 23-16 the day before. The legislation will now go to DeSantis’ desk for signing and could come into effect on June 1, 2023.
The governor has previously issued support for the measure, saying during a fundraising pitch Wednesday: ‘Disney and other woke corporations won’t get away with peddling their unchecked pressure campaigns any longer.
‘If we want to keep the Democrat machine and their corporate lapdogs accountable, we have to stand together now.’
The House on Thursday also approved a Senate-passed bill that removes Disney’s big tech censorship exemption.
Disney did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment on the changes and it remains unclear if the company will launch an appeal, but the vote sets up a potential legal battle between the state and the entertainment giant.
The newly-passed bill rips up the 55-year-old deal that allowed Disney to regulate land, enforce building codes and treat wastewater – and could cost the company millions in lost local taxes.
Florida’s Orange and Osceola counties may also end up saddled with $1billion of debt currently owed by Walt Disney World.
Reedy Creek Improvement District, as the Disney government is known, as well as a handful of other similar districts, will be eliminated by June 2023.
The legislation does allow for the districts to be reestablished, leaving an avenue to renegotiate its future.
The creation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, and the control it gave Disney over 27,000 acres in Florida, was a crucial element in the company’s plans to build near Orlando in the 1960s.
Company officials said they needed autonomy to plan a futuristic city along with the theme park. The city never materialized, however; instead, it morphed into the Epcot theme park.
Reedy Creek Improvement District encompasses the cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista and is home to fewer than 100 total residents.
The district is run by a five-member Board of Supervisors who are elected by landowners, not city residents.
Reedy Creek oversees land use, environmental protections and provides essential service – such as fire protection, emergency medical services, water and sewage, waste management, drainage and flood control, electric power distribution, and more – to the two communities, according to the district’s website. Reedy Creek also maintains all roadways and bridges in the communities.
Some lawmakers allege the dissolution of the district could cause significant financial hardship for the nearby Orange and Osceola counties, which house sections of Walt Disney World and Reedy Creek.
The counties, on June 1, 2023, would assume all of Reedy Creek’s assets and liabilities and become responsible for providing all of the services currently handled by the district, CNBC reported.
This is an excerpt from The Daily Mail.
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