Today, it’s probably not the happiest place on earth. The Florida State Legislature passed a bill by an overwhelming majority on Thursday that will take away Disney’s self-governing powers. It will allow Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to appoint all five leaders of Disney’s new tax district in Orlando.
The new bill passed 82-31 thanks to the GOP holding a supermajority in the state House. It now goes before the Senate where Republicans also hold a supermajority.
The governor’s office said that the special tax district has in the past allowed Disney to govern itself since 1967. It turned the massive theme park into “an unaccountable Corporate Kingdom.”
“Florida is dissolving the Corporate Kingdom and beginning a new era of accountability and transparency,” DeSantis’ office said. “These actions ensure a state-controlled district accountable to the people instead of a corporate-controlled kingdom.”
Some of the new system this bill will bring includes permanently eliminating Disney’s self-governing status, imposing a state-controlled term limit board that is appointed by the governor, imposing taxes on Disney for road projects even outside of the District’s boundaries, and ensuring that Disney pays the $700+ million in unsecured debt — not Florida taxpayers.
It also makes sure that Disney can no longer gain more land by eminent domain.
Governor DeSantis said in a press conference this week that Disney “is going to pay its fair share of taxes, and Disney is going to honor the debt.”
"Disney is no longer going to have self-government. Disney is gonna pay their fair share of taxes and honor their debts. … This is now going to be controlled by the state of Florida. There's a new sheriff in town." – Governor @RonDeSantisFL 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/53o8iP5GrJ
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) February 8, 2023
“And that’s exactly what this proposed piece of legislation will do,” he added. “Now, this is obviously now going to be controlled by the state of Florida, which is no longer self-governing for them. So there’s a new sheriff in town, and that’s just the way it’s gonna be.”
Gov. DeSantis is showing the kind of backbone that could make him a power to reckon with in Washington D.C.