Florida Senate Passes Bill to Strip 'Woke' Disney of Self-Governing Power
Company may lose 50-year-old privilege to self-govern at large property near Orlando
The Florida Senate has passed a bill that seeks to strip the Disney Corporation of its self-governing power after the "woke" company started using its influence to attack the state's parental rights law.
On Wednesday, the state Senate approved a bill that dissolves the special self-governing status given to Disney over 50 years ago.
The move comes after the company entered into public feuds with Republicans over a controversial parental rights bill.
Aside from spreading false claims about the bill, Disney and its executives have also launched a campaign to promote life-altering sex-change surgeries for children, in direct conflict with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's anti-child-grooming agenda.
The Republican-controlled chamber passed the bill, by a margin of 23–16.
If passed by the House and signed by DeSantis, the legislation will dissolve the special status granted to the company that essentially allows Disney to self-govern on its large property near Orlando.
The special status, known as The Reedy Creek Improvement Act, was signed into law in May 1967 by Gov. Claude Kirk in response to lobbying efforts by Disney.
The entertainment giant proposed building a recreation-oriented development on 25,000 acres of property in a remote area of Central Florida's Orange and Osceola counties, which consisted of 38.5 square miles of largely uninhabited pasture and swampland.
Orange and Osceola County did not have the services or resources needed to bring the project to life, so the state legislature worked with Disney to establish the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a special taxing district that allows the company to act with the same authority and responsibility as a county government.
The passage of the bill comes the day after Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis called on the legislature to take up the measure.
"What I would say as a matter of first principle is I don’t support special privileges in law just because a company is powerful and they’ve been able to wield a lot of power," DeSantis said during a press conference last month.
The comments came as he was engaged in a war of words with Disney over a bill he signed which prohibits classroom instruction on "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" with children in third grade or younger "or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards."
Disney released a scathing statement slamming the bill after its signing and referred to the bill as the "Don’t Say Gay" bill despite the actual legislation omitting the word gay and not containing language that bans the word "gay" in schools or in discussions of topics relating to sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom.
"Florida’s HB 1557, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, should never have passed and should never have been signed into law," Disney said.
"Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.
"We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country."
#BREAKING The Florida Senate passed the bill that would dismantle the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which gives Disney self-governing powers. It passed 23-16 and now moves to the Florida House.— Lydia Nusbaum (@LydiaNusbaum) April 20, 2022
DeSantis has remained committed to his support of the bill which recent polling suggests is popular in the state including with likely Democratic voters.
"Look, there’s policy disputes, and that’s fine," DeSantis said earlier this month, "but when you're trying to impose a woke ideology on our state, we view that as a significant threat."
"This wokeness will destroy this country if we let it run unabated," DeSantis added.
"So in Florida, we take a very big stand against that."
In a statement to Fox News, DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw argued that it's not "retaliatory" for the state to pass legislation that "allows all corporations to do business on a more even playing field."
"It was unfortunate that Disney decided to wade into a political debate and attempt to overturn a common-sense law, enacted by a duly elected legislature and signed by a duly elected governor, with the support of the vast majority of Floridians," Pushaw said.
"In fact, it was Disney that ‘retaliated’ by publicly vowing to ‘repeal’ or have the law ‘struck down.’"
Republican Florida State Rep. Joe Harding, who was a sponsor of the controversial parental rights bill, told Fox News he plans to support the bill in the House and said he is surprised Disney CEO Bob Chapek is still employed by the company.
"Disney has given the greatest example you can of what not to do in crisis management," Harding said in a statement.
"How their CEO has not been fired is insane.
"Florida is continuing to lead.
"Large corporations must be held accountable."