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DeSantis wins legal battle over bill to end Disney’s privilege to self-govern

Pending any further efforts to fight the legislation, DeSantis’ bill will go into effect in July 2022.

DeSantis wins legal battle over bill to end Disney’s privilege to self-govern
AP Photo/John Raoux, File
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has won his legal battle to revoke Disney’s special tax district in the sunshine state. As the Rebel News reported in April, DeSantis signed a bill to end the entertainment giant's privilege to self-govern and receive special tax privileges that enabled it to operate autonomously from Florida since 1967.

Fox Business reported Wednesday that a federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit challenging DeSantis’ law dissolving the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The lawsuit was brought on by a Miami lawyer who is running for U.S. Senate as a Democrat.

In the complaint, three residents of Orange and Osceola counties argued that the legislation ending Disney’s ability to operate autonomously of the government around its Orlando-area theme parks is unconstitutional, as it threatens residents with higher taxes, abridges free speech rights, and violates a contractual obligation. As detailed by Fox Business,  the Miami lawyer, William Sanchez, filed the lawsuit last week.

U.S. District Court Judge Cecilia Altonaga, a President George W. Bush appointee, shot down the lawsuit with multiple reasons for dismissal. The judge said that the federal court lacked any standing over state issues and the tentative nature of the claims made by the plaintiffs.

Pending any further efforts to fight the legislation, DeSantis’ bill will go into effect in July 2022.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Michael and Edward Foronda of Kissimmee and Vivian Gorsky of Orange County “do not plausibly allege they have suffered any concrete injury as a result of the alleged violation of Disney’s First Amendment rights, and nothing in the Complaint shows Plaintiffs have a close relationship with Disney.”

The judge ruled that the law does not affect any of the plaintiffs, who do not allege direct harm as a result of its passage, and the plaintiffs do not plausibly allege any credible threat of direct harm in the future.

In other words, the plaintiffs were basing their lawsuit on the possibility of harm, but were unable to prove their claims.

The judge wrote that the plaintiffs based their arguments on the supposition that the elimination of Disney’s special tax status “might result in financial harm to Plaintiffs by virtue of a tax increase that has not yet been enacted," Altonaga wrote. "That indirect and highly speculative alleged injury cannot support federal jurisdiction. … Again — it is worth emphasizing — the bill does not apply to Plaintiffs at all.”

Not conceding defeat, Sanchez says he intends to file on behalf of the plaintiffs by next Monday, calling the defeat “just the beginning of a battle, as we are attempting to achieve justice for Florida taxpayers.”

DeSantis signed the law after Disney put its foot into the culture war by publicly denouncing Florida’s anti-grooming legislation, which the company referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

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