The Florida House is poised to follow the state Senate’s lead and vote to abolish the Walt Disney Company’s autonomous governing zone on Thursday, Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls told National Review on Wednesday.
“We’ll officially pass it off the floor tomorrow,” said Sprowls, who called the measure “long overdue” in an interview.
“You have a company like Disney, who takes this special power and privileges that have been granted to them by the people and by the taxpayers. To use that power and privilege to mislead the public, on laws that are being discussed and passed in the legislature is wildly inappropriate,” continued Sprowls. He predicted that the legislation would sail through the House with “overwhelming” support from the Republican caucus, which holds a majority in the chamber.
The Florida Senate voted 23-16 on Wednesday to rescind Disney’s 50-year-old “independent special district” status after Governor Ron DeSantis expressed support for the effort in a Tuesday press conference.
The bill would dismantle the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a special municipal body created in 1967 to accommodate Disney World – the sprawling 27,000-acre property located in Central Florida near Orlando, which includes four theme parks, two water parks, a sports complex, hotels, stores, and restaurants.
The district, comprising 19 properties including those owned by Disney, is self-governing and sets its own regulations, including building codes and rules on land-use, utilities, transportation, emergency services, and environmental services. Crucially, it has exempted Disney from several taxes and fees, saving the company millions of dollars annually. Disney World employs 80,000 people in Florida and contributes $5.8 Billion annually to the local economy when operating at full capacity.
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