TAMPA (WFLA) – Gov. Ron DeSantis is criticizing the immense power wielded by Florida’s largest employer – Disney.
The governor says he is open to curtailing the authority granted to Disney under state laws that date back decades.
The rift comes after Disney announced its opposition to the Parental Rights in Education law, known to critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.
8 On Your Side is following the back and forth between the governor and the theme park that prides itself on being “the happiest place on earth”.
On Friday, Gov. DeSantis made stops in Brevard and Polk county to sign H.B. 3 into law.
The legislation includes financial incentives to attract police to Florida including a $5,000 signing bonus.
“We value the law enforcement officers that keep the state safe,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
But the topic that took center stage was the governor versus Disney and the battle over the state’s controversial bill that bans schools from teaching kids in grades K to 3 about sexual orientation or gender identity.
Disney leaders and employees have called for the sex-ed law to be repealed. You could say that put a target on their back.
“They could do their own nuclear power plant. Is there any other private company in the state that can just build a nuclear power plant on their own?” said Gov. DeSantis.
But it’s another law that could soon be repealed if Republicans get their way. In 1967, the state established the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
Basically, Disney can act as its own county government.
Now some Republicans say that practice should end.
State Representative Spencer Roach, R-Fort Myers, tweeted on March 30 if Disney wants to “embrace woke ideology” … “they should be regulated by Orange County.”
“I think they’re right to be looking at this and re-evaluating it,” said Gov. DeSantis. “They’ve been able to sustain this because they’ve had a lot of clout for many many decades.”
The governor has tied the potential repeal of Disney’s special status to the same ideology of the state’s 2021 “Big Tech Censorship Crackdown,” where the law was passed to allow lawsuits against companies like Facebook and Twitter over banning political candidates and equating it to a fight over free speech.
In a speech in Ponte Vedra Beach, DeSantis said the point was to take away the power of “woke” corporations from interfering in Florida politics.
So what’s the next step in this battle? It doesn’t sound like the governor is going to take any executive action saying that lawmakers need to address this and he’ll see how it shakes out.