Ron DeSantis won his war against Disney today as he officially stripped the company of its 55-year-old special privileges that effectively allowed it to self-govern.
The Florida governor wrote into law the plan which scrapped the Reedy Creek Improvement District, meaning the firm will no longer be able to take control of its own land.
The Republican gave a rousing speech and smiled as he passed the bill alongside a crowd of clapping schoolchildren this afternoon.
He slammed the firm for ‘marshalling your economic might to attack the parents of my state’, adding: ‘We view that as a provocation, and we’re going to fight back against that.’
The move could have huge tax implications for Disney but there is scope for the district to be reestablished – leaving an avenue to renegotiate its future.
The bill will also impact a handful of other similar districts by June 2023, with voting rights groups today suing the state over the new congressional map changes.
They claimed it will diminish Black representation and benefit Republicans as they staged a sit-in on the House floor, prayed and sang ‘We Shall Overcome’ in protest.
Meanwhile the White House again tried to muscle in, with Joe Biden last night slamming the ‘ugly’ GOP for targeting Disney and claiming it has been taken over by the ‘far right’.
The toxic war with Disney started when the company blasted a new law barring instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in pre-school through to third grade.
The firm said in March it would suspend political donations in the state and added it would in turn support organizations working to oppose the new law.
But DeSantis and his fellow Republicans lashed out at the Orlando resort – defending the law – before moving to strip it of its special privileges.
Ron DeSantis won his war against Disney today as he officially stripped the company of its 55-year-old special privileges that effectively allowed self-government
The Florida governor wrote into law the plan which scrapped the Reedy Creek Improvement District, meaning the firm will no longer be able self operate
The Republican gave a rousing speech and smiled as he passed the bill alongside a crowd of clapping schoolchildren this afternoon
President Joe Biden criticized ‘ugly’ Republicans for targeting Disney at his two west coast fundraisers Thursday. Earlier he gave an infrastructure speech in Portland, Oregon (pictured)
‘I mean it’s ugly. I mean, look at what’s happening now in Florida. Christ, they’re going after Mickey Mouse,’ Biden said, referring to Florida Republicans targeting Disney’s special status after the company publicly criticized the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill
Disney stocks dipped on the passing of the bill on Friday afternoon, with it closing the market down 2.79 per cent to $118 a share
At the bill signing ceremony Friday, DeSantis said Disney lied about the content of the education law but he viewed the company’s vow to fight the law as unacceptable.
He said: ‘You’re a corporation based in Burbank, California, and you’re gonna marshal your economic might to attack the parents of my state. We view that as a provocation, and we’re going to fight back against that.’
Florida lawmakers voted Thursday to strip Disney of its special status as a self-governing.
The republican-led House gave final passage to a bill that would end the Reedy Creek Improvement District, meaning the firm will no longer be able operate as a self-contained government.
‘It seems as [though] Mickey and Minnie have joined us in the chamber today,’ State Rep. Randy Fine, who sponsored the bill, said Thursday ahead of the vote as the sound of yelling filled the chamber.
The House passed the measure with a 68-38 vote after the Senate backed the bill by 23-16 the day before. The legislation will now go to DeSantis’ desk for signing and could come into effect on June 1, 2023.
The governor has previously issued support for the measure, saying during a fundraising pitch Wednesday: ‘Disney and other woke corporations won’t get away with peddling their unchecked pressure campaigns any longer.
‘If we want to keep the Democrat machine and their corporate lapdogs accountable, we have to stand together now.’
The House on Thursday also approved a Senate-passed bill that removes Disney’s big tech censorship exemption.
Disney did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment on the changes and it remains unclear if the company will launch an appeal, but the vote sets up a potential legal battle between the state and the entertainment giant.
The newly-passed bill rips up the 55-year-old deal that allowed Disney to regulate land, enforce building codes and treat wastewater – and could cost the company millions in lost local taxes.
Florida’s Orange and Osceola counties may also end up saddled with $1billion of debt currently owed by Walt Disney World.
Reedy Creek Improvement District, as the Disney government is known, as well as a handful of other similar districts, will be eliminated by June 2023.
The creation of the district, and the control it gave Disney over 27,000 acres in Florida, was a crucial element in the company’s plans to build near Orlando in the 1960s.
Company officials said they needed autonomy to plan a futuristic city along with the theme park. The city never materialized, however; instead, it morphed into the Epcot theme park.
Reedy Creek Improvement District encompasses the cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista and is home to fewer than 100 total residents.
The district is run by a five-member Board of Supervisors who are elected by landowners, not city residents.
Reedy Creek oversees land use, environmental protections and provides essential service – such as fire protection, emergency medical services, water and sewage, waste management, drainage and flood control, electric power distribution, and more – to the two communities, according to the district’s website. Reedy Creek also maintains all roadways and bridges in the communities.
Some lawmakers allege the dissolution of the district could cause significant financial hardship for the nearby Orange and Osceola counties, which house sections of Walt Disney World and Reedy Creek.
The counties, on June 1, 2023, would assume all of Reedy Creek’s assets and liabilities and become responsible for providing all of the services currently handled by the district, CNBC reported.
Currently Disney finances the services supplied by Reedy Creek, which would normally be funded by local municipalities.
The company, instead, charges itself property taxes to finance its service and pays the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement.
Once Reedy Creek is dismantled, local taxpayers and municipalities would likely be responsible for those services.
‘Removing district could transfer $2billion debt from Disney to taxpayers and could potential have an enormous impact on Orange and Osceola residents!’ State Sen Linda Stewart, who voted against the bill, tweeted.
But Rep Fine told Insider he believed taxes could go down because the measure was ‘eliminating a layer of government’.
Voting rights groups sued Florida on Friday over the redrawing of the congressional map drawn by Governor DeSantis, claiming it will diminish the state’s Black representation and benefit Republicans.
Rep. Yvonne Hayes Hinson, D-Gainesville voices her opposition to Senate Bill 2-C: Establishing the Congressional Districts of the State in the House of Representatives Thursday, April 21, 2022 at the Capitol in Tallahassee
Rep. Angie Nixon, D-Jacksonville breaks up a debate on Senate Bill 2-C: Establishing the Congressional Districts of the State in the House of Representatives Thursday, April 21, 2022 at the Capitol in Tallahassee
Florida lawmakers approved the map Thursday as part of a contentious three-day special legislative session during which Black and Democratic representatives staged a sit-in on the House floor in protest.
The League of Women Voters of Florida, the Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute, Equal Ground Education Fund and others filed the suit in a state court in Tallahassee.
The case alleges the new map violates provisions of the Florida Constitution that prohibit districts from diluting the electoral power of minorities and from being drawn to benefit one political party over another.
‘The League and the other plaintiffs have chosen to not stand by while a rogue governor and a complicit state Legislature make a mockery of Florida´s Constitution and try to silence the votes and voices of hundreds of thousands of Black voters,’ Cecile Scoon, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, said in a statement.
Rep. Angie Nixon, D-Jacksonville and Rep. Tray McCurdy, D-Orlando sit on the Florida Seal in protest as the special session ends and other legislators leave the House of Representatives Thursday, April 21, 2022 at the Capitol in Tallahassee
The lawsuit names as defendants Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee, Attorney General Ashley Moody and the Republican leaders of the House and Senate, among others.
DeSantis took the unusual step of vetoing the map drawn by the Legislature earlier this year and proposing his own, calling lawmakers back into the special session to approve it.
Democrats said the map strongly favors the GOP and dismantles two traditionally Black districts.
The governor´s office drew up a map it described as neutral on race and party affiliation and which it said abided by both the state and federal constitutions.
But even supporters have acknowledged that it is likely to draw legal challenges. The Florida congressional delegation now has 16 Republicans and 11 Democrats, and the state is poised to gain one US House seat based on the results of the 2020 US census.
Many political observers said the map could give Republicans a 20-8 advantage, though Florida´s vast number of unaffiliated voters can swing elections.
Such an advantage would help DeSantis, should he run for and win the White House in 2024. Of Florida’s 14.3million registered voters, about 36 per cent are Republicans and 35% Democrats, while most are not affiliated.
President Biden waded into the argument again last night as he tried to skewer DeSantis and the Republican party in a speech on the West Coast.
He told a high-dollar fundraiser at the Portland Yacht Club: ‘This is not your father’s Republican Party. This is the MAGA party.’
He said the Republican Party is ‘not even conservative in the traditional sense of conservatism’ and took aim at the war with Disney over their opposition to the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.
He continued: ‘I mean it’s ugly. I mean, look at what’s happening now in Florida. Christ, they’re going after Mickey Mouse.’
He made similar pro-Disney remarks at his second fundraiser in Seattle, headlining an affair at the lakefront home of Mary Snapp and Spencer Frazer.
Disney publicly criticized the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill backed by the state’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis (pictured)
He told the crowd last night: ‘There’s nothing conservative about throwing Disney out of its current posture… over saying gay?’
Earlier Thursday, Florida Republicans started the process of dissolving Disney’s special status that allowed Walt Disney World to act as its own government in a move that lead to a huge tax increase for Floridians.
Disney publicly criticized the Parental Rights Bill and enraged DeSantis for weighing into politics. Biden’s trip out west marked the first time he traveled to raise campaign dollars since becoming president.
The two fundraisers benefited the Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund, the Democratic National Committee’s political action committee, in advance of the 2022 November midterm races.
Both polls and historical precedent suggest that Democrats could be in for a beating this fall and lose control of their narrow majorities in the House and Senate.
But in Portland Biden pushed that winning was simply a matter of letting people know where the Democrats versus Republicans stand – and believed Democrats could pick up two Senate seats.
‘We’ve done a hell of a job,’ he boasted at the Portland Yacht Club. But ‘because things have moved so rapidly, so profoundly’ the American people ‘don’t know a lot about what we’ve already done.’
He cited some statistics like the creation of 7.9 million jobs, including 430,000 manufacturing jobs, a shrinking unemployment rate and deficit reduction.
‘We can’t afford to lose the House, we can’t afford to lose the Senate,’ he warned attendees in Seattle, including Washington’s Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee.
But the president admitted there was economic anxiety due to higher-than-normal gas prices and inflation that could hurt Democrats on the ballot.
‘People are angry and don’t quite know what to do,’ Biden said.
In Portland, he tore into a plan pushed by Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott – who’s in charge of the National Republican Senatorial Committee this cycle – that sunsets all federal laws after five years.
Democrats, including Biden at the fundraiser, have jumped on that to suggest it means the end of Social Security and Medicare.
‘If you want a copy of it, I’ll send it to you,’ the president told attendees of Scott’s 11-point agenda. ‘That’s what they’re running on.’
Biden recalled how Democrats successfully won back the House of Representatives in 2018, telling the crowd he went into 56 districts – and Democrats won 46.
‘We won all those seats back in 2018 because they kept for 500 times trying to do away with Obamacare,’ he said. ‘But what people didn’t know – and the point I’m about to get to, they don’t know a lot about what we’ve already done.’
‘We said do you know why, if you have a pre-existing condition, you can’t be denied insurance? Because of Obamacare. Nobody knew it. We won all of those races,’ he continued.
He then said he was ‘worried’ going into the midterms, that the American people didn’t know what he’d done.
The Portland fundraiser was originally supposed to take place at the home of McCormack and Butler, but the alt-weekly Willamette Week reported that it was moved due to popular demand.
President Joe Biden suggested Democrats were having political trouble because Americans were unaware of the party’s accomplishments at a Portland fundraiser Thursday. Earlier in the day he gave an infrastructure related speech at the Portland International Airport (pictured)
President Joe Biden boards Air Force One after appearing at a high-dollar Democratic fundraiser in Portland, Oregon. His second fundraiser was at a private, lakefront home in Seattle, Washington
President Joe Biden arrives in Portland, Oregon to give an infrastructure speech and then attend a fundraiser at the Portland Yacht Club
Biden was introduced by Columbia Sportwear’s Joe Boyle.
He opened by telling the Democratic donors he was there to thank them and closed by promising to get out more ‘and mak[e] the case for what we’ve done.’
Earlier, he delivered an infrastructure-related speech at the Portland International Airport, touting the bipartisan bill he signed into law last year.
On Wednesday night, the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond – speaking at an event hosted by the White House Correspondents’ Association and the Bipartisan Policy Center – suggested that at some point the president would make a ‘pivot’ and care more about the midterms.
‘I think that at some point you’ve got to make that pivot, but right now this is a president who cares more about other people than 1. his political future and 2. getting credit,’ Richmond told the crowd.
‘We all recognize that at some point we’ll take a deep breath from all those things were trying to do at once and tell the American people what we’ve been focused on doing and how we’ve achieved that,’ he continued. ‘And I think we’ve got some really great stories to tell.’
He also assured Democrats watching on C-SPAN: ‘The prediction of our demise, I think, is premature.’