Tallahassee, Fla.: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday asked the Legislature to repeal a law allowing Walt Disney World to operate a private government over its properties in the state, the latest volley in a feud between the governor and the entertainment giant.
DeSantis, an ascendant GOP governor, and potential 2024 presidential candidate has battled with Disney over the company’s opposition to the new law barring instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.
On Tuesday, DeSantis raised the stakes.
As lawmakers returned to the Capitol for a special legislative session on congressional redistricting, the governor issued a proclamation that allows the GOP-controlled statehouse to take up bills eliminating Disney’s self-governing district. Republicans quickly filed proposals to do so.
“Yes, they will be considering the congressional map, but they also will be considering termination of all special districts that were enacted in Florida prior to 1968, and that includes the Reedy Creek Improvement District,” DeSantis said at a news conference.
The Reedy Creek Improvement District is a private government controlled by Disney World and set up by the state Legislature in 1967 that allows it to provide government services such as zoning, fire protection, utilities, and infrastructure. The creation of the district, and the control it gave Disney over 27,000 acres in Florida, was a crucial element in the company’s plans to build near Orlando in the 1960s. The city never materialized, however; instead, it morphed into the EPCOT theme park.