Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he intends to strip the Walt Disney Company of its self-governing status that enables it to have wide-ranging autonomy, including control over local police and fire units.
In a formal announcement Tuesday, DeSantis, who is seen as a frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination said state lawmakers are “considering termination of all special districts that were announced in Florida prior to 1968 — and that includes the Reedy Creek Improvement District.”
DeSantis said legislatures will discuss discontinuing Disney’s privileges at an upcoming special session.
The Florida governor has clashed with the entertainment giant over his recently enacted legislation, which prohibited instruction related to sexual orientation and gender identity for kids aged five to eight, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by the mainstream media, Disney took a stance against the anti-grooming legislation to condemn it as anti-LGBT.
The law's supporters argue that the legislation is designed to protect young children from being exposed to inappropriate sexual subject matter and grooming.
Disney’s executives claim that the law fosters discrimination against the LGBT+ community, and have demanded its repeal.
“Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that,” Disney said in a statement following the law’s passage.
DeSantis fired back at Disney and said that the company was attempting to impose its “woke” values on Floridians.
In 1967, Florida approved the creation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District to attract Disney’s business, which resulted in the construction of massive theme parks in the state. The company’s self-governing status enables it to levy its own taxes and to channel those funds into its own infrastructure.
Should the status be repealed, the land on which Disney World is located would be governed by Orange and Osceola counties.