Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signs a bill targeting Disney

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Walt Disney World entrance in 2010. photo By Jrobertiko (Denis Adriana Macias) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a measure aimed at overturning controversial development agreements involving Walt Disney World.

A bill-signing announcement came after DeSantis said lawmakers had “acted appropriately” as he feuds with the entertainment giant.

The feud stems from Disney opposing a 2022 law that restricts instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in schools.

The bill DeSantis signed (SB 1604) seeks to nullify agreements reached by Disney and the former Reedy Creek Improvement District board shortly before the board was replaced by DeSantis appointees.

The Reedy Creek district was created in the 1960s and largely gave Disney self-governance power.

“The reason why the Legislature had to act was not because of anything we did,” DeSantis said during a news conference marking the end of the 60-day legislative session. “It was basically borne out of Disney’s arrogance, that they would be able to subcontract around the duly enacted laws of the state of Florida. That’s wrong.”

The law would allow DeSantis appointees to the renamed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board to reconsider the agreements.

DeSantis made the appointments after the Legislature passed a measure in February giving him control.

Under the bill signed Friday, 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 bill also would give new boards four months to review any development agreements and decide if they should be re-adopted.

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District also has filed a state lawsuit that seeks to nullify the agreements.

In a federal lawsuit, Disney alleges DeSantis and other officials are retaliating against the company, economically affecting its business and violating its constitutional rights.

The Senate voted 27-13 on Thursday to pass the bill, while the House voted 75-34 on Wednesday to approve it.

©2023 The News Service of Florida

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