disneyland orlando florida
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Since 1967, Disney has been responsible for the governance of an area known as Reedy Creek, which is partly within Orange and Osceola counties. The new bill would put a state-run board in charge of governance
Florida lawmakers will hold a special session to debate a proposal regarding Walt Disney World's special taxing district next week

Florida lawmakers are to meet next week as they decide on whether Disney World's self-governing power should be replaced with a state-run board under radical plans backed by Governor Ron DeSantis.

The session will focus on whether to reverse the previous decision to dissolve the district and Disney's special governing privileges, which it has held for 55 years.

The overhaul - part of an ongoing row between Disney and state officials which began over the 'Don't Say Gay' bill - would also force the company to pay $700 million dollars in unsecured debt that might otherwise have been paid by taxpayers.

It is not clear how a state-directed oversight board might work and what kind of financial control it would have over the Disney-run operation.

The plan to install a state-run board could force Disney to pay the debt, it's claimed.

Since 1967, Disney has been responsible for the governance of an area known as Reedy Creek, which is partly within Orange and Osceola counties. Critics say the arrangement gives the firm special legal and tax privileges.

The Walt Disney World Resort has the ability to tax itself at a higher rate than allowed by local authorities.

DeSantis launched an effort to upend Disney's self-governing powers after the company's former CEO, Bob Chapek, condemned Florida's Rights in Education Bill, termed the Don't Say Gay bill, which limits teaching about sex and gender identity in the state's classrooms.

On Thursday DeSantis said lawmakers were convening to 'make sure that Disney doesn't have self-governing status anymore' however he has not explained how the state would handle Disney's almost $1 billion in bond debt, which will leave the resident of Orange and Osceola liable if Disney's ability to tax itself remains removed from law.

The meeting will also address various issues, including problems with state laws related to migrants, college athletes, election fraud, hurricane recovery, and local water control districts, according to memos from Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and House Speaker Paul Renner seen by the Miami Herald.

The controversy began last spring when Disney opposed the Parental Rights in Education legislation and the governor responded by including the dissolving of Disney's special taxing district in a special session on redistricting.
reedy creek self govern disneyland florida

The Reedy Creek district is governed by its 19 landowners, the biggest of them being Disney World. Disney's status as majority landowner means it choose members of the district board
In April 2022, DeSantis wrote into law the plan to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District, setting the wheels in motion to eliminate its special status.

His former chief of staff said the governor was 'doing exactly what he said he would', adding: 'Disney can no longer have its own government and own taxing authority, and Disney — not taxpayers — will have to be responsible for any financial consequences.'

The author of Florida's controversial Don't Say Gay bill told DailyMail.com in December that the state will not back down in its fight against Disney.

Florida State Rep. Randy Fine also said that for the media behemoth to repair its relationship with Florida, the studio must stop producing woke movies.

His comments come after a report in the Financial Times which said that Florida lawmakers were considering allowing Disney to continue with its self-governing district in the Orlando area following the return of former CEO Bob Iger.

Gov. Ron DeSantis' office insisted at the time: 'Governor DeSantis does not make U-turns.'

The Reedy Creek district is governed by its 19 landowners, the biggest of them being Disney World. It is responsible for overseeing land use and providing essential public services, including fire protection, emergency medical services, water services, electricity, sanitation. The district also operates and maintains all public roads and bridges.

Disney CEO Bob Iger made a shocking return to the role in November after it was reported the board received multiple complaints about Chapek.

Chapek was reportedly chided for Disney's muddled reaction to the Don't Say Gay bill. The company initially didn't comment on the bill but under pressure, Chapek eventually condemned it.

How 1967 law allowed Disney to govern its vast Florida domain

The Reedy Creek Improvement District, a semi-private, special-purpose government, is controlled by Disney and spans 39 square miles.

It was created in 1967 when then-Florida Gov. Claude Kirk, a Republican, signed into law the Reedy Creek Improvement Act authorizing it to regulate land use, enforce building codes, treat wastewater, control drainage, maintain utilities and provide fire protection at Disney World.

The district is governed a Board of Supervisors that is selected by its 19 landowners, the biggest and most influential of them being Disney World. The district has the authority to tax the land, and use the revenue to provide essential public services and operate and maintain all public roads and bridges.

Such private governments aren't uncommon in Florida, which has more than 600 community development districts that manage and pay for infrastructure in new communities.

If the 1967 is repealed by GOP lawmakers, Disney World's property will fall under the control of Orange and Osceola counties.