THE VILLAGES, Fla. – Florida lawmakers currently debating congressional maps proposed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in a special session will now also consider getting rid of special districts enacted before 1968, which includes Disney’s Reedy Creek district, the governor announced Tuesday at a news conference in The Villages.
The Reedy Creek Improvement District — created by state lawmakers in 1967 — acts as Walt Disney World’s own government with two cities and land in Orange and Osceola counties.
The special session would look to dissolve six special districts in the state.
“The governor is not waiting. We’ve talked about the possibility of a third session maybe in June, but the anger on the part of Republicans toward Disney as a result of the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation is so intense that he wants action now,” News 6 political analyst Jim Clark said.
Initial conversation on the repeal of the Reedy Creek Improvement District began when Disney spoke out against the signing of the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. As the bill neared DeSantis’ desk earlier in March, multiple protests were organized to call on Disney to do what it could to speak out against the legislation and halt its momentum in the Florida legislature.
After DeSantis signed the bill, Disney issued a statement March 28 that said its new goal as a company was “for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts,” promising to support organizations working to make such a thing happen.
Rep. Randy Fine introduced the bill, which he said would affect six special districts around Florida, most of them obscure but Disney’s is the target.
VIDEO: Walt Disney and Gov. Haydon Burns discuss government incentives to bring @WaltDisneyWorld to Florida in 1965. @GovRonDeSantis has called for a special session to reconsider the Reedy Creek Improvement District (State Archives of Florida) #news6 pic.twitter.com/NNYlBM3Ipu— Mike DeForest (@DeForestNews6) April 19, 2022
“Disney is a guest in the state of Florida and today we remind them of that,” Fine said.
Fine said the bill will go through committee Tuesday afternoon and if it makes it out of committee, it would go to the House floor. If it passes House and Senate, bill will go to DeSantis, who Fine expects will sign it.
The legislature is currently taking on a once-a-decade mapping process, but last week leadership with the state House and Senate said in a joint statement that DeSantis would lead those efforts. The governor released his proposed map that shrinks District 5, which runs along the state’s northern border and is represented by U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, a Black Democrat.
“It (the map) will, though, have north Florida drawn in a race-neutral manner. We are not going to have a 200-mile gerrymander that divvies up people based on the color of their skin. That is wrong. That is not the way we have governed in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Miami last week.
View the proclamation on the expanded special session below.