The Florida Legislature passed amendments to laws today to revoke Disney’s efforts to escape the control of Governor Ron DeSantis. The governor was outraged because Disney openly opposed his “Don’t Say Gay” law. He got the legislature to dissolve Disney’s self-governing Reedy Creek district. But before the legislature acted, Disney made an agreement with its own Reedy Creek district board to extend its control for decades.

DeSantis’s new board met today and began the takeover process, raising Disney’s taxes. The legislature acted to void Disney’s efforts to extend its own control. The new law will lead to legal challenges.

Imagine, if you dare, a DeSantis presidency. Any corporation that dared to disagree with his multiple prejudices would be singled out for spiteful treatment. DeSantis is a mean, angry, hateful wannabee dictator. Woe to those who dare to challenge him.

Florida legislators on Wednesday quickly responded to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ call to retroactively invalidate an agreement between Walt Disney World and its special taxing district, adopting amendments despite warnings that the proposal will not withstand a constitutional challenge.

The Florida State Affairs Committee and the Senate Rules Committee each added an amendment to bills regulating land use and development regulations that requires the DeSantis-appointed board overseeing all of Disney’s parks and resorts to vote on the Disney agreement that limits the authority of the governor’s new supervisors to infrastructure and taxing issues.

The move came on the same day the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors met and announced a series of proposals that will require the governing board whose revenues come from Disney to raise taxes on itself.

Under the amendments added to SB 1604 and HB 439, special districts would be prohibited from complying with development agreements executed three months or less before new laws take effect that change how district board members are selected.

The amendment also would give new boards four months to review any development agreements and decide if they should be re-adopted. “The Legislature sets up special districts and allows them, and therefore we should be able to change how we think some of those things need to happen as we move forward,’’ said Rep. Stan McClain, R-Ocala, the sponsor of the House amendment.


But Democrats, who have for years criticized Republican lawmakers for their willingness to give Walt Disney World favorable treatment, said the amendments now appeared to be singling out the company for punitive treatment.

They warned that if passed, the provision would violate the Constitution. “I’m all about corporate accountability, but this isn’t it,” said Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando. “And it continues to be a distraction for us to focus on real life issues by continuing the Disney versus DeSantis drama.”

Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, said he worried the amendment would “set a very bad precedent” that “opens up the floodgates” for future legislatures. He said the Disney-backed district appears to have “operated within the law, and this shouldn’t be how we govern.”

Both McClain and the Senate sponsor, Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, were asked if they could name other special districts to which the law would apply and how many would be affected. Neither could answer.

“I’m not sure how many, but I can think of one,’’ Ingoglia told the Senate Rules Committee, referring to the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

The amendments come after DeSantis announced there would be “more to come” in his war against Disney, the largest single-site employer in the United States with 75,000 workers and an economic linchpin of the state’s tourism industry.


Last year, DeSantis wanted to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the special taxing district created in 1967 to pay for municipal services to the 39-square-mile area where Disney built its theme parks, hotels and resort areas at a time when the nearest urban development was more than 16 miles away.

After Disney officials voiced opposition to the Parental Rights in Education Bill, which prohibited classroom instruction on gender identity issues in certain grades, legislators rushed through a bill to dissolve the district.

But, after it became law, Disney quietly pointed to another state law that requires the state to pay for any outstanding debts before a special district is dissolved and, if the district were to be dismantled as the governor wanted, it would cost Florida taxpayers nearly $1 billion.

Lawmakers returned in special session in February, repealed the law dissolving the district and replaced it with a plan to allow the governor to appoint the district’s governing board.

But, before that law could take effect, Disney outmaneuvered the state by adopting a series of development agreement and restrictive covenants that undermined the authority of the DeSantis-appointed board. Invalidating those agreements, however, is expected to be a lengthy legal fight.

At its meeting on Wednesday, Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board voted to void the agreements with no discussion. But because state and federal contract law may create legal obstacles to that decision, the legislation attempts to help them achieve the goal.

In the House, McClain had difficulty explaining the amendment under questioning from Eskamani. “The Florida Constitution says we can’t pass retroactive laws impairing contracts. Can you explain how is your amendment constitutional?’’ she asked. “Obviously this would be a new law,’’ McClain answered.

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