Florida House passes bill to dissolve Disney’s special self-governing status

The legislation now goes to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who called on the Legislature to back the measure during its special session this week.

The Florida House passed a bill Thursday to eliminate the special district that allows the Walt Disney Co. to self-govern its Orlando-area theme park, sending the measure to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his signature.

DeSantis, a Republican, called on the Legislature to back the measure during its special session this week. House lawmakers passed the bill in a 68-38 vote after the Senate’s 23-16 vote on Wednesday.

The legislation would dismantle Disney’s special district on June 1, 2023. The district, which was created by a 1967 state law, allows Disney to self-govern by collecting taxes and providing emergency services. Disney controls about 25,000 acres in the Orlando area, and the district allows the company to build new structures and pay impact fees for such construction without the approval of a local planning commission.

The effort to eliminate Disney’s district, known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, comes after DeSantis began targeting the corporation over its leaders’ criticism of legislation he recently signed that would prevent classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through the third grade.

A Disney spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

DeSantis had suggested in recent weeks that he wants to remove Disney’s protections, saying he doesn’t “support special privileges in law just because a company is powerful.”

The House on Thursday also approved a Senate-passed bill in a 70-38 vote that would remove Disney’s exemption in a 2021 law about big tech censorship.

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