TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida House voted Thursday to approve Gov. Ron DeSantis’ redistricting maps and bill that will dissolve six special districts in the state, including the one that allows Walt Disney World to self-govern.
The Florida Senate already approved the special district bill on a largely party-line vote Wednesday, with one Republican joining all Democrats against the bill.
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The legislation, championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, would dissolve six special districts that were formed before 1968, when the current state constitution was put in place.
The districts would then be able to reapply to become a special district again in 2023, subject to the approval of the Florida Legislature.
In 1967 Disney was granted the formation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District by the state legislature. The district handles critical services for the Disney area in Orange and Osceola counties, including electricity, drainage, roads and fire services.
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The House bill, H.B. 3C, was filed in the House by State Rep. Randy Fine, R-Brevard County, after Disney “chose to kick the hornet’s nest” and condemn DeSantis’ parental rights in education law, more colloquially known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.
Critics of the bill say it will shift the burden of those services the RCID provides from Disney to Orange and Osceola counties, along with the estimated $1 billion in bond debt the district currently carries.
The Reedy Creek Professional Firefighters issued the following statement in response to the passage of the bill:
“The Reedy Creek Professional Firefighters represents approximately 200 First Responders that are public employees, participate in the Florida Retirement System, and that stand to be impacted by the dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Our primary concerns are the livelihood and well being of our members, retirees, and their families. We are closely monitoring the proposed legislation and look forward to being a part of any conversation regarding implementation of the bill.”