On Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill giving him control over the self-governing area of Walt Disney World as retaliation for the company’s objection to the so-called “Don’t Speak Gay” rule.
The Republican DeSantis must establish a five-member board to supervise the public services that the Disney district offers throughout its vast Florida theme park assets, according to the legislation.
At a bill signing event in Lake Buena Vista, he declared, “Today, the corporate empire finally ends.” “Accountability will be the rule of the day with a new sheriff in town.”
A high-profile legislative triumph for a governor whose exploitation of cultural and political divides has propelled him to the forefront of national GOP politics, the signing took place as DeSantis prepared for his anticipated presidential bid. DeSantis, whose book, “The Courage to be Free,” will be out on Tuesday, has been working hard lately to boost his political network and national exposure by holding fundraisers and engaging with conservative influencers, elected officials, and contributors.
The takeover of the Disney district started last year when the media mogul vocally opposed “Don’t Say, Gay,” a law that forbids courses deemed inappropriate for children of kindergarten through third grade regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.
When DeSantis ordered lawmakers in the GOP-controlled Legislature to disband Disney’s self-governing district during a special legislative session last year, he acted too hastily to punish the corporation and launched a widely watched reorganization process.
In a hastily called special session in February, DeSantis urged lawmakers to reconvene to negotiate with Disney and finalize state control over the district.
This move indicated the governor’s willingness to use the state’s power for political ends, a tactic that is anticipated to continue in the months ahead of his potential White House bid.
The Central Florida Tourist Oversight District is now known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District under the new statute, which also subjects it to many levels of state regulation. Board members are, at the moment, named through entities controlled by Disney.
It addresses an essential worry of neighboring governments by leaving the district, its financial resources, and its debt obligations intact.
Additionally, it bans individuals from serving on the district’s new governing board if they have a three-year employment or contract with a theme park.
Thanks to its different administration, the district can issue bonds and offer zoning, fire protection, utilities, and infrastructure services on its property. Republicans who object to the district claim it provides Disney a competitive advantage.
Florida Ends the Corporate Kingdom https://t.co/N7lJA1BSXb
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) February 27, 2023