Disney seeks to preserve self-governing power despite bill signed by Ron DeSantis

 March 31, 2023

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis made headlines last month when he signed a bill to abolish the Disney-controlled Reedy Creek Improvement District.

While many conservatives hailed the move as being a win for DeSantis, a new report suggests that Disney may have gotten the upper hand. 

According to Orlando's News 6, HB-9B created the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, an entity with five board members who are appointed by the governor.

"Since the 1960s they’ve enjoyed privileges unlike any company or individual in the state of Florida has ever enjoyed. They, of course, control their own government right here in Central Florida," News 6 quoted DeSantis as saying of Disney at a press conference.

"They had exemptions from laws that everybody else had to follow, and they were able to get huge amounts of benefits without paying their fair share of taxes and even racked up $700 million worth of municipal debt," he added.

New agreement

However, News 6 reported this week that Disney entered into a new agreement with the Reedy Creek Improvement District just weeks prior to its abolition which hamstrings the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

Ron Peri is a member of the new district's board, and he read out part of Disney's agreement at a meeting on Wednesday morning.

"This declaration shall continue in effect until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, King of England, living as of the date of this declaration," News 6 quoted  Peri as saying.

"I cannot tell you the level of my disappointment in Disney. I thought so much better of them. This essentially makes Disney the government," he continued.

"This board loses, for practical purposes, the majority of its ability to do anything beyond maintain the roads and maintain basic infrastructure," Peri complained.

Documents are void

"So, I mean, I don’t know what else to say. I think these documents are void ab initio, I think they were an extremely aggressive overreach, and I’m very disappointed that they’re here," he added.

DeSantis' office told News 6 that the governor "is aware of Disney’s last-ditch efforts to execute contracts just before ratifying the new law that transfers rights and authorities from the former Reedy Creek Improvement District to Disney."

"An initial review suggests these agreements may have significant legal infirmities that would render the contracts void as a matter of law," it stressed.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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