The Walt Disney Company has long held tremendous influence in Florida politics, even getting the state to grant it a self-governing area known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
Given the corporation's clout, many were shocked when Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis approved a bill this week to curtail its power.
DeSantis' office put out a press release on Monday after the governor signed House Bill 9-B into law. It replaces the district's Disney-controlled board with one whose members will be appointed by the governor.
The press release added that this legislation aims to ensure "Disney will pay its fair share of taxes" as well as remove the company's "exemption from state regulatory reviews and approvals."
"Since the 1960s, they’ve enjoyed privileges unlike any company or individual in the state of Florida has ever enjoyed," Fox News quoted DeSantis as saying at a news conference.
"They had exemptions from laws that everyone else had to follow. They were able to get huge amounts of benefits without paying their fair share of taxes," he continued.
"How do you give one theme park its own government and then treat all of the other theme parks differently?" the governor demanded.
"So, we believe that that was not good policy. We believe that being joined at the hip with this one California-based company was not something that was justifiable or sustainable," he added, stressing that Disney World will be treated in the same way as other Florida theme parks.
"My signature will also end Disney’s exemption from Florida building code and Florida fire prevention code. It will end Disney’s exemption from state regulatory reviews and approval," DeSantis explained.
"Today, the corporate kingdom finally comes to an end. There's a new sheriff in town, and accountability will be the order of the day," he concluded.
I signed legislation to end Disney’s self-governing status, placed the area in state receivership, and appointed 5 members to a state control board.
Disney no longer has its own government, will live under the same laws as everyone else and pay its debts and fair share of taxes. pic.twitter.com/5JnZmEjSdv
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) February 27, 2023
DeSantis has had a tense relationship with Disney since the entertainment conglomerate came out against the Parental Rights in Education Act, a bill that prohibits teachers from discussing matters of gender and sexuality with young children.
In March of 2022, journalist Christopher F. Rufo publicized leaked videos in which Disney executives discussed how they could inject gender ideology into children's programming.
SCOOP: I've obtained video from inside Disney's all-hands meeting about the Florida parental rights bill, in which executive producer Latoya Raveneau says her team has implemented a "not-at-all-secret gay agenda" and is regularly "adding queerness" to children's programming. pic.twitter.com/eJnZMpKIXT
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) March 29, 2022