Florida ends Disney’s special status

Governor Ron DeSantis made the move amid a spat with Disney over LGBTQ issues in schools

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law on Friday that strips Walt Disney World of its special tax status and self-government in the state. The move was made amid a public spat with Disney over a separate law that bans certain discussions on gender and sexual orientation in schools.

The new law abolishes the “independent special districts” created before 1968, including the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a 25,000-acre property in central Florida where the Disney theme park is located.

Under a 1967 arrangement, Disney was allowed to operate as a county government on its own property, building and maintaining municipal services such as electricity, water and roads, and essentially taxing itself.

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DeSantis framed the law as eliminating “special interest carveouts,” and has argued that Florida’s state constitution, revised in 1968, bans “special laws granting privileges to private corporations.”

Meanwhile, DeSantis and Disney have been trading jabs over Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, which was signed into law this month. The legislation, dubbed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill by opponents, bans classroom discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity for students in kindergarten through third grade.

Disney, known for its pro-LGBTQ stance, vowed to fight for the law to be struck down in the courts. DeSantis responded by saying that Florida law is “not based on the demands of California corporate executives.” Disney’s corporate headquarters is in Burbank, California.