Florida Legislature Approves Ending Disney’s Special Status

Florida governor takes on Disney 0:43 (CNN) — The Florida legislature on Thursday gave final approval to a series of bills targeting Disney, after weeks of a dispute between the company and Governor Ron DeSantis over the new law limiting certain classroom discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity. One of the bills would remove the unique status that allows Disney to operate as an independent government at its Orlando-area theme parks. The other would remove a Disney exemption provided for in a social media bill that was signed into law last year but was put on hold by a federal judge’s decision. This action against Disney is the latest consequence of a controversial measure that prohibits schools from teaching young children about sexual orientation or gender identity. What is Disney’s showdown with DeSantis? DeSantis, a Republican widely seen as a possible 2024 presidential contender, signed the bill into law in March over objections from Disney, Florida’s largest private employer. Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek announced that the company would stop making political donations in Florida after decades of contributing lavishly, primarily to Republicans, including DeSantis. After DeSantis signed, Disney said in a statement that his “goal” was to repeal the law or see it defeated in court. DeSantis said Disney “crossed the line” with that statement and suggested in late March that the company’s “special privileges” could be lifted. A Republican state representative said a group of Republican lawmakers would meet to discuss repeal of the Reedy Creek Improvement Act. The Reedy Creek Improvement District covers Disney properties near Orlando, allowing the theme park to manage land within its facilities and provide its own public services, such as fire and police services. DeSantis announced his move against Disney on Tuesday to a crowd of supporters at The Villages, a sprawling retirement metropolis built by Republican developers in Central Florida that also benefits from a special district.