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Florida governor paraphrases bill stripping Disney of self-governing authority

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill Friday that strips the Walt Disney Co of self-governing authority in its Orlando-area parks to counter resistance to a new bylaw that restricts teaching about LGBTQ issues. in schools. The Republican-controlled Legislature on Thursday approved the bill, which will remove special governmental jurisdiction that allows the organization to operate Walt Disney World Resort as its own town. Within the 25,000 acre territory, it serves four theme parks, two water parks and 175 miles of road.

Disney did not immediately comment on the signing of the bill.

Disney’s special status “was really an aberration,” DeSantis said at a press conference where he signed the bill. “No individual or business in Florida is treated this way.”

While the financial impact on the company and the state is uncertain, the change could alter the way Disney runs its sprawling Central Florida empire and strain the close relationship it has had with the state for more than a decade. 50 years.

DeSantis is a potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate who has courted conservative voters on issues including immigration, abortion and LGBTQ rights.

The governor said Friday that Disney would pay more taxes because of the law, but did not elaborate.

With his latest decision against Disney, DeSantis is trying to restore his conservative image by showing he’s ready to stand up to what he described as a “woke” California-based company that doesn’t share Florida values.

Disney initially did not publicly oppose LGBTQ legislation last month, drawing criticism from that community and some employees. The company later condemned the law and said it would suspend political donations in Florida pending a review.

The law, dubbed the “don’t say gay” bill by critics, prohibits classroom teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity for children in kindergarten through third grade. DeSantis supported the measure, saying it would give parents more control over their children’s education. Opponents call it a thinly veiled attempt to marginalize gay and transgender students, or children of gay parents.

At a fundraiser in Seattle on Thursday, President Joe Biden weighed in on the clash between Disney and Republicans in Florida. He said efforts to impose such constraints “have nothing to do with traditional conservative doctrine.” “I respect the Conservatives. There’s nothing conservative about deciding that you’re going to throw Disney out of its current posture because Mickey Mouse…shouldn’t…can’t say, you know, gay.

While the bill appears to be an attack on Disney and Orlando’s sprawling theme parks, experts say the financial impact of the legislation on the company and the state is unclear at this point. DeSantis rushed the bill through the statehouse, pushing it through within three days of a special session, but it won’t go into effect until June 2023, giving both sides time to adjust to the new reality.

The law dissolves the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which was created in the 1960s to attract Disney World to the state, after the much smaller Disneyland became a hit theme park in California. For more than half a century, the District has enabled Disney to operate as a county government, providing services such as firefighting, power, water and roads in Orange Counties and Osceola. In turn, Disney can issue bonds with tax advantages to pay for the improvements.

Disney is a major political contributor in the state. During the 2020 election cycle, the company donated a total of $4.8 million, including campaign funds, to more than 100 individual members of the Florida Legislative Assembly, some of whom sponsored the legislation of Thursday, according to state records. It’s unclear whether the state or the company will be harmed the most now that the bill has become law.

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  • Florida governor paraphrases bill stripping Disney of self-governing authority
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Teresa R. Cabrera

The author Teresa R. Cabrera