Mickey Mouse Loses – Florida Moves to Remove Disney’s Special Tax District During ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Dispute

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

By Oliver Camarena

ORLANDO, FL – Florida’s full legislature Thursday approved legislation—expected to be signed by the governor—repealing a law that gave Disney the ability to govern their properties in the state.

House lawmakers passed the bill in a 68-38 vote Thursday after the Senate’s 23-16 vote on Wednesday. It takes effect in June of 2023.

The bill upends a 1967 state law, which allows Disney to self-govern by collecting taxes and providing emergency services. Disney controls about 25,000 acres in the Orlando area, and the district allows the company to build new structures and pay impact fees for such construction without the approval of a local planning commission.

This bill will have massive tax and zoning implication for the California based company and comes just after Disney publicly spoke out against the passage of the “don’t say gay” bill.

Usually, with Disney’s lobbyists and large campaign donations to state politicians, they’ve been able to keep hold of their benefits in the state, said pundits. But Disney announced a pause to their campaign donations as a part of their feud with the state’s passage of the “don’t say gay” bill that prevents classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through the third grade.
The new measure to remove Disney’s district status specifically eliminates the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the area of land in which Disney has built their theme park.

With this district removed, Disney loses its ability to unilaterally develop their theme part as it wishes, as well as a change to its tax status which would have branching tax implications on the state and its residents, which bill critics may be forced to pay billions in additional taxes.

Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said that Disney “chose the wrong guy to pick a fight with.”

He further stated “As governor, I was elected to put the people of Florida first, and I will not allow a woke corporation based in California to run our state.”

In contrast, Democrats in the state legislature have voiced opposition to the bill removing Disney’s district, citing the company’s status as a major component of the state’s economy, employing more than 60,000 workers.

State Senator Gary Farmer, a Democrat, stated, “Let’s call this what it is: it’s the punitive, petulant political payback to a corporation who dared to say the emperor has no clothes, but if they behave this next election cycle, maybe we’ll put it back together.”

About The Author

Oliver is a fourth year student at the University of California, Davis pursuing a bachelors degree in political science. He is a transfer student from Porterville College and has associate degrees in both political science and social science. After graduation, Oliver plans to take a gap year before attending law school.

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21 Comments

  1. Bill Marshall

    Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said that Disney “chose the wrong guy to pick a fight with.”

    Of course… he can’t say “gay“…

    Not convinced that Disney ever deserved a “special tax district”… but, that said, sure sounds like FL legislative folk are highly ‘conservative’ Republicans, vindictive, homophobic, anti-free speech (perhaps they should ban all FL residents working for Disney from voting… fits their historic patterns of ‘vote-control’), and trumpeting their power to do so…

     

        1. Bill Marshall

          Ahhh… but if they did… FL would have many additional unemployed… loss of tourism revenue for the FL economy… loss of taxes to fund voter suppression, ‘fixing’ election results like 2000… a “tit for tat”…

          You’re right, Keith O… unlikely… but a delicious fantasy…

          Guess if Republicans got a ‘super-majority’ in CA (fantasy, however ‘delicious’ that might sound to some), the legislature could punish churches, other tax-protected entities, and any taxpayer who didn’t follow the ‘party (conservative Republican) line’, and I suspect there are many ‘conservative’ Republicans who would have absolutely no problem with that… not even bat an eye…

          And I am serious… I know folk like that… we just have agreed not to talk politics at family gatherings…

          Democrats, thus far, have not tried to remove tax ‘subsidies’ from qualified conservative, and/or Republican entities… but FL may be giving a signal that that might be appropriate…

    1. Keith Olson

      Of course… he can’t say “gay“…

      There’s nothing in the legislation that states “Don’t Say Gay”.

      That’s the lamestream media putting out misleading biased reporting.

      1. Ron Oertel

        There’s nothing in the legislation that states “Don’t Say Gay”.

        True – sure is “catchy”, though.

        In any case, my guess is that Walt would be rolling over in his grave, regarding the direction that the company has recently gone in.  (He struck me as a rather conservative person.) In fact, Disney itself is a sort of a “Family Values” type of company – or it was.

        Very different from “Family Guy”.

  2. Keith Olson

    What’s funny about this is it’s usually Democrats who would be trumpeting a big corporation like Disney having to pay more in the way of taxes instead of having special tax status.

  3. Alan Miller

    Wait, what?   Disney are the “good” guys in this scenario?   I just read an article showing all sorts of offensive caricatures at Disney World in plays and statues and rides – that I couldn’t believe still exist.  I think much of the sensitivities of the last few years have gone too far, but these weren’t even on the line.  Also, Disney historically has been a conservative company with pretty questionable values, although it seems to be busting out with just the opposite in same ways.  What a mess.  Well doesn’t matter to me.  I’ll see the inside of the Mouse House when hell freezes over and DG votes for Mr. T.

  4. Bill Marshall

    In other, somewhat related news, DeSantis has approved a redistricting for House seats… apparently the proposal by the FL Republicans didn’t go far enough, so he drew the lines himself… FL gained one seat… DeSantis… he assured that two seats were re-apportioned/eliminated, held by Democrats, who are Black…

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs redistricting map passed during special legislative session (clickorlando.com)

    Typ. for Rep ‘conservatives’…

      1. Bill Marshall

        In FL, even the Republican legislature was too liberal for DeSantis… THAT was my point… what is there about that you don’t get?  Wise up, unless you are already on DeSantis’ wavelength… or perhaps he’s too liberal for your tastes?

        Perhaps Democrats/non-partisan/moderate Republicans should be ‘districted out’… OK, I understand the leaning to that sort of view…  I’ve opposed the Demos doing that in CA, but that’s just me… and the independent commission, etc.  But it should be a totally ‘Red’, conservative, “conforming to your values”, City, County, State, and Nation, right (double entendre intended)?

    1. Ron Oertel

      Skimmed it, more Draconian than I expected.

      Some parent is going to file a “writ”, no doubt. And try to get a school district to pay for their legal fees. 🙂

      Newsom suddenly isn’t looking that bad to me anymore.

      Hell, I think I like Trump better than this DeSantis guy – despite his first name.

      DeSantis seems like quite a hard-nosed conservative, from what I’ve seen.

  5. Ron Oertel

    Meanwhile, in San Francisco (just came across this):

    The social studies teacher at San Francisco’s Creative Arts Charter School brought in cotton plants, or bolls, to class on March 3 so her eighth-grade students could feel the sharp edges that had pierced hands while picking cotton and pulling out the seeds. The lesson was about the cotton gin and the impact it had on slavery and the Industrial Revolution.

    Within 24 hours, the leadership at the school had launched an investigation into the classroom exercise — what some described as an inappropriate simulation of slavery.

    On March 4, the school’s director apologized in a letter to families for the “unacceptable, harmful” and “inappropriate” teaching that did not reflect the school’s “anti-racist, progressive-minded curriculum.”

    https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/An-S-F-teacher-used-a-cotton-plant-to-teach-17121022.php

    Is it “inappropriate” for me to find this whole thing hilarious?  (Both the fact that a teacher tried something like this, as well as the reaction – ESPECIALLY in a place like San Francisco?)

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