TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida’s Republican-controlled Senate voted on Wednesday to remove a special district status for Disney that has been in place since the 60s.
Before the construction of Cinderella’s Castle, Walt Disney himself proposed that Disney World should have governing authority over its property.
The legislature at the time established the “Reedy Creek Improvement District.” The status allows Disney to build roads and buildings without going through the normal permit process.
Republicans now argue this gives Disney an unfair competitive advantage over other theme parks. Democrats contend, that the objection to this special status only came up after Disney executives expressed displeasure over Florida’s new parental rights education law, a measure the critics have dubbed “don’t say gay.”
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is running for the Democratic nomination to face DeSantis in the next election. She says the action by the legislature is payback for DeSantis.
“For the Governor to add an issue that is only based on revenge and scare tactics, not issues that are on peoples minds. Unfortunately, this is how this Governor works. He’s not listening to the people, he’s not listening to the issues that are impacting people’s lives every day. This is made up drama to get to revenge because you had a specific company that didn’t agree with a specific bill or policy coming out of the Governor’s mansion,” said Fried.
The Republican author of the measure to take away Disney’s special status says this is about regaining control of a company that has called its own shots for too long.
“Remember the districts that are affected have not had any legislative oversight in over 50 years and some of the districts have incredibly sweeping powers. A single company could start construction on a nuclear reactor,” said Republican Senator Jennifer Bradley.
The Republican-controlled House is expected to approve the measure on Wednesday.