ORLANDO, Fla. – State Rep. Randy Fine filed a bill on Tuesday to end six of 1,844 special districts in Florida next year, including the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
Fine, R-Brevard County, said Disney and its Reedy Creek district was not the target of the bill, but Disney “chose to kick the hornet’s nest,” and that led to this legislation.
The bill falls in line with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to expand the redistricting special session to include the special districts bill.
“Disney is a guest in the state of Florida and today we remind them of that,” Fine said.
DeSantis called for the state legislature to do away with the Reedy Creek district in response to Disney’s condemnation of the parental rights in education law, known by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which restricts the ability of schools and school staff to discuss topics of gender identity.
Fine’s bill would sunset six special districts in June of next year, including the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The districts were all formed before 1968 when the current Florida Constitution was put in place. The districts would then have to reapply to be allowed under the constitution.
In 1967, Roy Disney got the Florida Legislature to agree to a special district — essentially allowing Disney to form its own government.
If Reedy Creek goes away, it could have a very big impact on the taxpayers in the two counties the district resides in, Orange and Osceola counties.
Phil Diamond, Orange County’s comptroller, said he is watching what happens with the bill very carefully.
“They’re paying property taxes, then I think the question is, is there going to be additional services that Orange County provides, how will Orange County be compensated to provide those services?” Diamond said.
Disney is the largest property taxpayer in Orange County.
Fine said all of the revenues that Disney’s special district creates would be transferred to the corresponding local governments.
“All of the assets would go to those local municipalities. I don’t know that that’s necessarily a legitimate concern,” Fine said.
Fine’s bill goes through committee Tuesday afternoon. If it makes it out of the committee, the bill would go to the House floor Wednesday and on Thursday it would be voted off the House floor. If it passes House and Senate, the bill will go to the governor, who Fine expects will sign it.
Fine also said Disney can also always reapply to be a special district if the bill becomes law.