Florida governor Ron DeSantis accelerates toxic war on Disney following ‘Don’t Say Gay’ fallout

Ron DeSantis (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Ron DeSantis plans to rip up Disney’s 55-year-old special district status as toxic war with firm over so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill intensifies


Ron DeSantis’ feud with Disney continues to escalate as the 2022 version of Donald Trump Governor vows to not “allow woke corporations to strong-arm our state.”


DeSantis – a GOP 2024 hopeful whose staunch opposition to liberal policies on race, gender and abortion form the fundamental’s of his political imaging – has ramped up his war on Disney with plans to abolish The Reedy Creek Improvement District, a law that allows the firm to effectively govern itself.


Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled chamber backed the measure in a 23-16 vote (20 April) to repeal a law allowing Walt Disney World to operate a private government over its properties in the state.


The latest strike would mean ripping up the 55-year-old deal that allows the company to regulate land, enforce building codes and treat wastewater at the Orlando resort. It also exempts the park and its locality from nearly all state regulations like property taxes and elevator inspections, NPR reported. 

The Reedy Creek Improvement District, a semi-private, special-purpose government, is controlled by Disney and spans 39 square miles. It was created in 1967 when the then-Florida Republican Governor Claude Kirk signed into law the Reedy Creek Improvement Act.


The proposal could have huge tax implications for Disney and many have warned it may cause local homeowners to get hit with big tax bills if they have to absorb bond debt from the corporation.

In a scorching rebuke of his actions, The Miami Herald warned DeSantis is taking a page from disgraced former President Richard Nixon’s playbook with his latest string of attacks.


How did it get to this?

Following the fallout over Florida’s controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, in what has become nothing more than a macho pissing contest in politics, DeSantis, proclaimed “if Disney wants to pick a fight, they chose the wrong guy.”


Disney corporation faced extensive public backlash after failing to condemn the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation, which bans classroom discussion about LGBT+ identities in the state’s primary schools, forcing CEO Bob Chapek to eventually apologise and announce a pause on political donations in the state

Put simply, he cut the Governor’s pocket money and pissed him off.


Disney has subsequently now faced boycotts from those on the far right for publicly supporting LGBTQ+ causes, with some taking a leaf out of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Fox News’ playbook of calling LGBTQ+ supporters ‘groomers’ or ‘peados’.


In a proclamation signed by DeSantis read that it is “necessary to review such independent special districts to ensure that they are appropriately serving the public interest”.

At a press conference in The Villages, DeSantis said: ‘I am announcing today that we are expanding the call of what they are going to be considering this week.

‘And so yes they will be considering the congressional map but they also will be considering the termination of all special districts that were enacted in Florida prior to 1968. And that includes the Reedy Creek Improvement District.’


Democratic state senator Janet Cruz called the bill the “grandest form of bullying that I’ve ever seen” adding, “I have this vision of a mousetrap that we’ve created, and I see us leaning on the neck of the mouse for 12 months, just to step on Mickey’s neck.” 


Should the 1967 Reedy Creek Improvement District be repealed by GOP lawmakers, Disney World’s property would essentially fall under the control of Orange and Osceola counties.


Reports suggest the reckless move could see the two counties saddled with $1billion of debt currently owed by Walt Disney World.


Ron DeSantis in March, attacking ‘woke’ Disney and accusing the corporation of being “too cozy” with communist China. The speech was made immediately following the company’s apology over ‘Don’t Say Gay’ and its pausing of political donations in the state.


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