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DeSantis and Florida Republicans move to strip Disney World of its self-governing powers
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DeSantis and Florida Republicans move to strip Disney World of its self-governing powers

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday announced that state legislature will consider repealing special privileges that give Disney quasi-government powers over the area where the Walt Disney World Resort is located.

The governor said at a press conference that when lawmakers meet in special session this week to redraw the state's congressional maps, their agenda will be expanded to consider repealing all special districts enacted before 1968, including the Reedy Creek Improvement District where Walt Disney World is located.

The move would strike a blow against Disney after the company inserted itself into a political controversy over Florida's Parental Rights in Education law, which bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in K-3 grades and restricts such discussions to what state standards determine are age- or developmentally appropriate settings.

Facing pressure from left-wing employees to fight DeSantis, Disney released public statements opposing the law, stating, "Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that."

DeSantis responded to the company's demands by telling Disney executives to go pound sand and earlier this month suggested that the legislature should repeal laws that essentially give Disney self-governing control over nearly 40 square miles in Central Florida and around Orlando.

Now it appears the governor and state legislature will follow through on that suggestion.

The Reedy Creek Improvement District that includes Walt Disney World Resort explains on its website that Florida law states "that landowners within the Reedy Creek Improvement District, primarily Walt Disney World, would be solely responsible for paying the cost of providing typical municipal services like power, water, roads, fire protection etc. Local taxpayers, meaning residents of Orange and Osceola County, would not have to pay for building or maintaining those services."

If the law is repealed, Disney would lose the right to govern itself like a city. The theme park's land would fall under the jurisdictions of Orange and Osceola counties and would be subject to the taxes, rules, and regulations of those county governments.

State Rep. Spencer Roach, a Republican who represents the Fort Myers area, tweeted on March 30 that legislators had met twice to discuss repealing the 1967 Reedy Creek Improvement Act, which grants Disney its special privileges.

On Tuesday, Roach said he is "proud that we are taking action to correct this aberration to the free market."

The government should never use the power of the state to pick winners & losers in the marketplace. No more corporate welfare," he said.

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