Florida Senate, with a 23-16 vote, has passed legislation ending Disney’s tax privilege, self-governing power, and special exemption status.
Since 1967, Disney has operated its own government around Walt Disney World in Florida.
BREAKING: The Florida Senate just passed DeSantis’ congressional map that creates four new GOP-leaning districts, wipes out Dem gains in redistricting across the nation, and removes Disney’s self-governing power and special exempt status.
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) April 20, 2022
Republican State Rep. Randy Fine, who introduced the legislation, tweeted on Tuesday, “Disney is a guest in Florida. Today, we remind them.”
BREAKING: Disney is a guest in Florida. Today, we remind them. @GovDeSantis just expanded the Special Session so I could file HB3C which eliminates Reedy Creek Improvement District, a 50 yr-old special statute that makes Disney to exempt from laws faced by regular Floridians.
— Rep. Randy Fine (@VoteRandyFine) April 19, 2022
“I don’t think there’s another special taxing district in the state that I’m aware of that has the ability to construct their own nuclear power plant. I think that’s something that’s unique to Disney,” Republican House Speaker Chris Sprowls said on Tuesday.
Under Florida law, Disney can control their own water, power, emergency services — and more.
“I was shocked to see some of the stuff that’s in there. They can do their own nuclear power plant. Is there any other private company in the state that can just build a nuclear power plant on their own?” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said during a press conference on Tuesday. “They’re able to do certain things that nobody else is able to do. So I think they’re right to be looking at this and reevaluating and having an even playing field for everybody, I think is much better than basically to allow one company to be a law onto itself.”
Disney has become increasingly political, recently making headlines for loud opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law.
Branded the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by opponents, the legislation does not actually mention the word “gay,” but rather prohibits the teaching of gender identity or sexual orientation to students in third grade and below.
The company had originally been keeping neutral, but apologized after backlash from the left.
“It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights. You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down,” CEO Bob Chapek said in a statement about the legislation. “I am sorry.”
Democratic State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith from Orlando has called the bill retaliation for Disney wading into politics.
“They are applying this bill only to affect Reedy Creek and not The Villages. This is political retribution. They are punishing Disney for speaking out against them on ‘Don’t Say Gay,'” Guillermo said, according to a report from WESH.
Disney has not yet responded to the vote.