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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

DeSantis threatened retaliation for Disney’s attempt to thwart the state acquisition.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis threatened Monday to retaliate against companies that oppose the state’s takeover of the area by building a prison or rival theme park near the Magic Kingdom or by raising taxes on Walt Disney World .

Florida Republicans planned an exacting retaliation against the House of Mouse, saying the GOP-controlled state legislature would “officially thwart” Disney’s efforts to retain control of the territory through last-minute maneuvers. Will take action for

DeSantis said lawmakers “will push legislation to convince people that they cannot leave their companies at the will of the people of Florida.”

DeSantis moved earlier this year to take over the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a special taxation zone that has given Disney control of the land around its Central Florida theme parks for half a century, and his political allies on the district’s board of oversight. Appointed. But Disney reached a settlement with an outgoing board in February that seemed to make the entertainment giant a powerless body. The DeSantis administration remained unaware of the agreement for a month and vowed retaliation after it became public.

The conflict between Florida and its largest employer began last year after the state passed a new law prohibiting classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity. Disney opposed the bill and vowed to help repeal it. DeSantis responded by targeting the Reedy Creek Improvement District. On Thursday, DeSantis said Disney could “promote” the state if it doesn’t like how it’s governed.

On Monday’s Orlando radio program, DeSantis said the contract was “flawed” and not properly notified under state law. Disney claimed to follow state convention laws. The deal was agreed upon at two public meetings covered in local newspapers.

DeSantis also said that the new board that oversees Disney’s tax districts “will meet on Wednesday to hold Disney accountable.” A meeting agenda posted online said the board would consider firing current staff and monitor developments within the district.

A five-member committee appointed by DeSantis will also direct the employees to comply with the state inspector general investigation. DeSantis ordered the investigation earlier this month.

Late Monday, DeSantis suggested the state could build a prison or its own theme park next to Walt Disney World.

“If you think about it now, people say, ‘Well, what am I going to do with this land?’ DeSantis said. “You could even build a state park. Maybe try building more amusement parks. Somebody even said we might need another state prison. I mean, who knows? I guess the possibilities are endless.” Are.”

DeSantis also said a new board overseeing Disney’s special taxing districts could raise taxes on the company’s vast empire of theme parks. He suggested that the additional revenue could be used to pay off the district’s existing debt. If the proposal materializes, it’s a proposal that could finally allow states to abolish the district for good. The 1967 law that created the districts prevents states from dissolving districts without paying their debts.

The district’s significant debt last year, estimated at $1 billion, prevented the state from enacting new laws to eliminate the district until this June. Earlier this year, the state instead voted to retain the district, but leave trusteeship to DeSantis’ nominee.

Meanwhile, state Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson said he supports legislation requiring state oversight of theme parks. Currently, New York State oversees smaller amusement park rides, but not larger amusement park rides such as Disney, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and Busch Gardens.

But DeSantis said the bill would only apply to parks in “special areas.” Other theme parks are not managed as special wards.

DeSantis again denied that his administration had been tipped off by Disney and called the deal to gain power a “legal fantasy”. He said the agreement Disney made with the outgoing board contained “a plethora of legal loopholes” and that the GOP-controlled legislature would move swiftly through legislation to eliminate it.

“Disney basically made an exclusive deal to bypass the whole process, so they took over control of the board,” DeSantis said. “It was basically like a legal fiction that gave them the ability to negotiate with them and maintain their self-governing status.”

On Monday morning, Good Morning Orlando host Simon Conway asked DeSantis if he would agree to a meeting with Disney CEO Bob Iger to resolve the conflict.

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