UPDATE: On the afternoon of Thursday, April 21, the Florida House of Representative voted to pass forward the bill withdrawing self-governing status from the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The bill is now on its way to Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk for a signature.
Are you ready to rumble? The Florida government has challenged corporate heavyweight Disney. The state is attempting to strip away the company’s self-governing status, which was implemented in 1967, and allows Disney to operate Walt Disney World within the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The District basically behaves as its own county, with its own fire department, waste management, law enforcement, and debt, which may become Florida’s problem.
On Wednesday, the Florida Senate passed a bill targeting the dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District as soon as June 1, 2023. On Thursday, the state’s House also voted to move the bill forward–which means Governor Ron DeSantis could soon sign it into law. If you haven’t been following along, DeSantis has been very critical of Disney in recent months for what he’s called its “woke” policies, which include things like face mask requirements for employees during the pandemic.
It’s also hard to see this move by Florida lawmakers as anything but a petty response to Disney’s open stance against the recent ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill, which was signed into law by DeSantis in March. The law “prohibits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels or in a specified manner.”
The company eventually openly eviscerated the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill in a statement on Twitter, stating that it “should never have passed.” But many Disney employees weren’t pleased with how long it took the company to push back agains the legislation. Disney, however, has not yet commented on this seemingly pointed attempt to retaliate against the company, and did not immediately return Gizmodo’s request for comment.
The new law may have consequences that extend past the Reedy Creek Improvement. It may also affect local taxpayers, as local Florida news outlet Click Orlando states–property taxes could see a hike of 15% to 20% in the areas surrounding Reedy Creek, citing Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph.
Gizmodo will continue to update this story as this news continues to break.