Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed a measure into law that dissolves the special governing power Walt Disney World holds with the state of Florida.
The law dissolves the power and follows on the heels of the company announcing its public opposition to a new parental rights law.
During the bill signing ceremony, Gov. DeSantis said Disney’s vow to fight the law, the state’s new “Parental Rights in Education” law, which he deemed unacceptable.
“You’re a corporation based in Burbank, California, and you’re gonna marshal your economic might to attack the parents of my state. We view that as a provocation, and we’re going to fight back against that,” said DeSantis.
The Florida House voted to remove the status 70-38 in a vote following a 23-16 vote by the Florida Senate.
In response to Disney’s lobbying efforts, the special status, also known as The Reedy Creek Improvement Act, was signed into law by Governor Claude Kirk in May 1967.
The business and entertainment giant proposed building an entertainment and recreation-oriented development in a remote area of Central Florida’s Osceola and Orange counties, consisting of 25,000 acres of property on roughly 38.5 square miles of primarily uninhabited swamp and pastureland.
The Florida counties did not have the resources or services needed to breathe life into the project. The legislature worked alongside Disney to establish the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
The special taxing district allows the company to act with the same responsibility and authority as a county government is given.
Disney heads to court
Shortly after DeSantis signed the parental rights bill, Disney released a statement vowing to fight it in court.
“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. Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.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,” said Disney.
Gov. DeSantis pushed back against the company numerous times and pledged to oppose the “wokeness” he said the company promotes.
“Look, there’s policy disputes, and that’s fine, but when you’re trying to impose a woke ideology on our state, we view that as a significant threat,” said DeSantis.
“This wokeness will destroy this country if we let it run unabated. So, in Florida, we take a very big stand against that.”
The White House voices its opposition to Florida bill
“So, our view is this — is that the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill is really crystal clear: It’s wrong. That’s our view: It is just wrong,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
“We oppose the governor taking action against a company because of their opposition to that bill. And we’re just going to leave it there for now; we’re not going to say anymore to that.”
In addition to signing the bill removing Disney’s special governing power, Gov. DeSantis signed a measure dubbed the “Stop WOKE Act” into law. The measure prohibits critical race theory (CRT) from being discussed in corporate settings such as employee training and classrooms.
The bill, known as the “Individual Freedom” measure, was introduced in December. It prevents corporations and schools from “subjecting any student or employee to training or instruction that espouses, promotes, advances inculcates, or compels such individual to believe specified concepts constitutes discrimination based on race, color, sex, or national origin.”
Previously, the Florida Department of Education enacted a rule preventing CRT content from being discussed in K-12 schools.
The governor has forcefully condemned critical race theory — a structure that aims to discover systemic racism beneath the surface that involves deconstructing aspects of society.
“We’re here today because we believe in education, not indoctrination. We believe an important component of freedom in the state of Florida is the freedom from having oppressive ideologies opposed upon you without your consent,” said DeSantis at the signing of the measure.
“We are not going to use your tax dollars to teach your kids to hate this country or hate each other.”
The state released four examples from recently-rejected textbooks. The textbooks have been rejected for use in the school system over concerns over Common Core principles and the promotion of CRT.