Gov. DeSantis to lawmakers on Disney: ‘Reevaluate any special privileges’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The battle between DeSantis and Disney is heating up with some state lawmakers looking at possibly revoking the Reedy Creek Improvement Act.

That act essentially allows Disney to operate as an independent government within the state.

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The Reedy Creek Development Act can be traced back to 1967.

It was a pivotal negotiating factor in convincing Disney to locate his company in Florida and allows the company to do just about whatever it wants on its land.

“The ability, the power to build a nuclear power plant, an airport manufacturer, distill and distribute alcoholic beverages and lots of other things,” said Dr. Richard Foglesong, author of “Married to the Mouse” in an interview with WFTV in 2021.

And State Rep. Spencer Roach (R-Fort Myers) argues it’s time to end the special designation, calling it “crony capitalism at its worst.”

“We should not be using the power of the state to pick winners and losers in the marketplace and that’s what the Reedy Creek Improvement District really does,” said Roach.

The mounting legislative pushback comes in the wake of the company vocally opposing a new state law limiting instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida schools.

We pushed Governor Ron DeSantis on whether he thinks a repeal of Reedy Creek is warranted.

While he stopped short of a full-throated endorsement of the idea, he did say he dislikes special dispensations and encouraged lawmakers to review those on the books.

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“I would say reevaluate any special privileges in the law,” said DeSantis.

Democratic State Rep. Anna Eskamani represents Orlando.

She said she’s no defender of Disney, but doubts Republicans are serious about hitting the state’s largest employer in its pocketbooks.

“For me, a lot of this seems performative, where they want to act big and bad in front of these corporations who have expressed opposition to their policy agenda, meanwhile they’re still giving a big refund to these companies,” said Eskamani.

We reached out to the Walt Disney World Company and asked what the repeal of Reedy Creek would mean for its future in Florida, but didn’t get a response in time for this story.