Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, is seeking to punish Disney for its opposition to the state’s controversial “don’t say gay” law. In response, DeSantis has called a special session of the Florida legislature to follow through with measures needed to permanently strip Disney of its self-governing status through the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a 39-square-mile area that contains Disney World and allows the company to act as a county government.
In response to Disney’s condemnation of the “Parents’ Rights in Education” legislation last April, DeSantis and Republican lawmakers introduced, passed, and signed a measure eliminating special districts, including Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District designation. The arrangement, which allowed Disney to manage its own fire department, police station, and emergency medical services, among other benefits, is set to expire in June due to the new law.
DeSantis and Republican lawmakers have generally joined right-wing pundits in casting a more tolerant worldview as unwanted and detrimental to society. In a fundraising email to supporters, DeSantis wrote, “I will not allow a woke corporation based in California to run our state.” He accused Disney of promoting child abuse and sexual exploitation and accused the company of sexualizing kindergarteners.
Disney was Florida’s largest private employer and a sponsor of DeSantis’s inauguration in January. The special session, to be held in a week or two, will address the transition details and ensure that Disney does not have self-government status anymore.