Florida Senate Votes to End Disney’s Tax Privileges, Self-Governing Status

On Wednesday, Florida’s GOP-led Senate approved legislation that would strip the Walt Disney Company’s of its special tax district that has allowed the company to self-govern its land. Disney has fiercely opposed Florida’s parental rights bill that prevents sexuality and gender issues from being taught in grades K-3, which led to the move.

The Reedy Creek Improvement District was created in 1967 in an effort to “support and administer” various aspects of “economic development and tourism within District boundaries.”

Having the special tax district allows Disney to have broad autonomy over its parks and other owned lands. Among other things, the company is allowed to operate its own police and fire departments on its properties in Orlando. This saves Disney tens of millions of dollars a year in exemptions from various regulations, taxes and fees, according to a report from the New York Post.

Florida’s Senate ultimately voted 23-16 in favor of ending the agreement in June 2023. All told, the new measures would affect six Florida districts.

The Florida House is expected to join the Senate in voting to end the exemption later this week. This all comes after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that lawmakers will be “considering termination of all special districts that were announced in Florida prior to 1968 — and that includes the Reedy Creek Improvement District,” in a statement on Tuesday.

DISNEY: Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL): Florida legislature will use its special session this week in part to go after laws that have given Disney special privileges—and let Walt Disney World operate as its own local government. https://t.co/nkuko7Es1B pic.twitter.com/QwYyt9Ntjp

— Forbes (@Forbes) April 19, 2022

The Walt Disney company has fiercely opposed Florida’s decision to bar the teaching of sexuality and gender ideology in grades K-3. Shortly after Governor DeSantis signed the bill, a group of Disney executives vowed to ramp up the amount of leftist social ideology in children’s programming. One executive producer, Latoya Raveneau, says her team has implemented a “not-at-all-secret gay agenda” and is regularly “adding queerness” to children’s programming.

After mounting pressure from leftist organizations, Disney CEO Bob Chapek publicly criticized Florida lawmakers in a statement of his own last month. “We were opposed to the bill from the outset, but we chose not to take a public position on it because we thought we could be more effective working behind the scenes, working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle,” Chapek said. “I called Governor DeSantis this morning to express our disappointment and concern that if the legislation becomes law, it could be used to unfairly target gay, lesbian, non-binary, and transgender kids and families.”

Chapek added that the company would be donating $5 million to Florida-based LBGT groups.

“When you have companies that have made a fortune off being family-friendly and catering to families and young kids, they should understand that parents of young kids do not want this injected into their kid’s kindergarten classroom,” DeSantis said in response.

It was recently revealed that Disney has hired a former Obama Administration official in order to assist with PR.

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