Entertainment

Governor Ron DeSantis And Florida Republicans Look To Terminate Disney’s Special Tax And Governing District In Florida

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced on Tuesday that the state legislature will not only be meeting to discuss the state's congressional reapportionment plan, but will also look at a proposal to eliminate all special districts in Florida prior to 1968.  This includes Disney’s special tax and governing jurisdiction, The Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID), which includes Walt Disney World.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced on Tuesday that the state legislature will not only be meeting to discuss the state’s congressional reapportionment plan, but will also look at a proposal to eliminate all special districts in Florida prior to 1968.  This includes Disney’s special tax and governing jurisdiction, The Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID), which includes Walt Disney World.

Photo Credit: State of Florida, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

“I am announcing today that we are expanding the call of what they are going to be considering this week, and so yes, they will be considering the congressional map, but they will also be considering termination of all special districts that were enacted in Florida prior to 1968, and that includes the Reedy Creek Improvement District,” DeSantis declared.

https://www.facebook.com/GovRonDeSantis/videos/in-addition-to-congressional-reapportionment-this-weeks-special-session-will-inc/545689493592050/

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As noted on the Reedy Creek Improvement District’s website, the zone, which contained parts of Orange and Osceola County was created in 1967 “that would act with the same authority and responsibility as a county government.”

Not only did it allow the district to act as a county government, but it also made the landowners within the district “solely responsible for paying the cost of providing typical municipal services like power, water, roads, fire protection etc.”

Walt Disney World Resort entrance Photo Credit: Jrobertiko, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

The reason for its creation was to allow The Walt Disney World Company to create Walt Disney World on the then remote area whose closest power and water lines were 10-15 miles away.

The RCID website explains, “Through the creation and effective operation of the District, Walt Disney was able to turn 38.5 square miles of remote and largely uninhabited pasture and swamp land into a world-class tourist destination that welcomes millions of visitors every year.”

Photo Credit: yoryet, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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Following DeSantis’ announcement Florida state representative Anthony Sabatini tweeted, “BREAKING: Governor Ron DeSantis JUST amended our special legislative session to include ‘legislation relating to independent special districts.”

He added, “Translated: It’s time to DROP THE HAMMER on Woke Walt Disney World. Stay tuned!”

Source: Anthony Sabatini Twitter

Fellow Florida state representative Randy Fine would announce he filed a bill to eliminate the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

He wrote on Twitter, “BREAKING: Disney is a guest in Florida. Today, we remind them. Governor Ron DeSantis just expanded the Special Session so I could file HB3C which eliminates Reedy Creek Improvement District, a 50 yr-old special statue that makes Disney to exempt from laws faced by regular Floridians.”

Source: Randy Fine Twitter

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The bill simply states, “Any independent special district established by a special act prior to the date of ratification of the Florida Constitution on November 5, 1968, and which was not reestablished, re-ratified, or otherwise reconstituted by a special act or general law after November 5, 1968 is dissolved effective June 1, 2023. An independent special district affected by this subsection may be reestablished on or after June 1, 2023, pursuant to the requirements and limitations of this chapter.”

Source: Disney Meetings and Events, YouTube

Political analyst Jim Clark spokes to News 6 ClickOrlando explaining why Disney plans to vehemently oppose the legislation, “I think they are going to turn their three dozen lobbyists in Tallahassee loose to try to fight this effort.”

“But again, this thing has momentum. Remember, two weeks ago, no one had ever heard of the Reedy Creek Improvement District and now we are having a special session to deal with it,” he added.

Not only is Disney facing the loss of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, but U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida’s 1st district penned an op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel calling on Florida’s legislature to end end what he describes as a Florida Tax Code loophole that The Walt Disney Company benefits from.

Gaetz writes, “Florida should join the majority of states in adopting combined reporting of state corporate Income Taxes. This allows Florida to fully realize Disney’s corporate income taxes from as a proportion of their overall, or “combined” reported income. The nonpartisan Florida Revenue Estimating Conference says that this measure would have a recurring impact of $591.7 million on Florida’s budget. That’s $591.7 million that Florida Man and Florida Woman have to shoulder because Disney has fancy lawyers, lobbyists and accountants.”

He adds, “If Mickey’s ears are purchased in Orlando, that revenue shouldn’t find itself taxable in Delaware through nifty accounting and outdated laws. Combined reporting is hardly a tool of liberals. Even Texas made the obvious change to protect the pocketbooks of its own citizens.”

U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz speaking with attendees at the 2020 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. Photo Credit: U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz speaking with attendees at the 2020 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida

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These moves follow, Disney’s lobbying against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill that bans the teaching of sexuality and transgenderism to children between kindergarten through third grade. Not only has Disney been lobbying against the bill, but they’ve also announced the decision to stop providing financial contributions to Republicans supporting the bill. 

Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced towards the middle of March, “Starting immediately, we are increasing our support for advocacy groups to combat similar legislation in other states.”

He added, “We are hard at work creating a new framework for our political giving that will ensure our advocacy better reflects our values. And today, we are pausing all political donations in the state of Florida pending this review.”

Source: The Walt Disney Company’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders 2022

In the wake of the bill, major LGBTQ lobbies such as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) also announced they would be grading studios on their LGBT advocacy based on political donations to left-wing candidates and censorship of LGBT scenes in international markets.

This move was done in hopes that corporations like Disney and NBC Universal will no longer provide financial support to Republican candidates over Democrats.

CEO Sarah Kate Ellis wrote, “Corporations need to be held accountable for their silence on anti-LGBTQ bills in states where they do business. That’s why we’re updating our Studio Responsibility Index to hold Hollywood accountable.”

Sarah Kate Ellis at 32nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards via GLAAD YouTube

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In response, Disney renewed The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder, a show that was at the center of controversy after Disney began lobbying against the bill. The show’s producer Latoya Raveneau revealed she was inserting a “not-at-all-secret gay agenda” into the show. 

In another video, Raveneau made it abundantly clear that she wanted to include “gay advanced” and “Gay 101” lessons into the show.

What do you make of this move by Governor Ron DeSantis and Representative Randy Fine? How do you think this will affect Disney?

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