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Attention Mickey Mouse, best not to poke the bear!

Hey Disney, you having fun yet! DeSantis is. Ralleying the troops by televising his foot going up your tuchus. Ever considered stay the f-ck out of politics? No of course not. What fun is that.


PS. Do I think this is going to cost Florida any money? Not a chance? Disney...haha!


Florida Gov. DeSantis Signs Bill Stripping Disney of Special Tax Status

Republican calls theme park owner’s opposition to new law limiting teaching on gender and sexuality ‘a provocation’


By Arian Campo-Flores and Robbie Whelan, WSJ

Updated Apr. 22, 2022 7:02 pm ET


Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law Friday a bill that would terminate a special tax district that has allowed Walt Disney Co. to self-govern the land that houses its Orlando-area theme parks, hotels and resorts.


The signing caps a turbulent week for Disney in the Florida statehouse following the company’s public opposition to a Florida bill that limits classroom instruction on gender and sexuality.


Before signing the bill Friday, Mr. DeSantis criticized its decision to oppose the law, which he said liberals and the media distorted. “You’re a corporation based in Burbank, California, and you’re going to marshal your economic might to attack the parents of my state?” he said. “We view that as a provocation and we’re going to fight back against that.”


Disney declined to comment. The entertainment company employs nearly 80,000 people in the state, mostly at its theme parks and resorts.


The bill will eliminate independent special districts in Florida established before 1968, and not since renewed, on June 1, 2023. It affects six such districts, most prominent among them the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which was created in 1967 and encompasses some 27,000 acres that includes Walt Disney World’s theme parks, hotels, resorts and other attractions.


The special district was an aberration that required addressing, Mr. DeSantis said. “No individual or no company in Florida is treated this way,” he said at an event in Hialeah Gardens, where he signed the measure. “It’s not right to have dissimilar treatment.”


Reedy Creek was established by the Florida Legislature at the request of Walt Disney, who wanted more control over the development of an East Coast version of the company’s successful Disneyland amusement park in California.


For the past half-century, the district has allowed Disney to govern itself in Florida. The company pays taxes and fees to the district, and in return the district manages a wide variety of services for Walt Disney World, including fire and emergency medical services, road maintenance, wastewater management and power generation.


The district also allows Disney to expand its real estate holdings without having to follow local building, planning or environmental codes. Disney pays property taxes to Orange and Osceola counties in Florida, and contracts with the Orange County sheriff’s office for law enforcement at the resort.


If Reedy Creek is dissolved, Orange County could end up on the hook for hefty new costs, said Scott Randolph, the county tax collector. He said $58 million that Reedy Creek pays in debt service annually, as well as $105 million it collects yearly for operating expenses like fire service, would become Orange County’s responsibility.


Since 1967, the Florida land housing Disney’s theme parks has been governed by the company, allowing it to manage Walt Disney World with little red tape. WSJ’s Robbie Whelan explains the special tax district that a Florida bill is eliminating. Photo: AP

Mr. DeSantis said on Friday, “We’re going to take care of all that,” adding: “Don’t let anyone tell you that somehow Disney is going to get a tax cut out of this. They’re going to pay more taxes as a result of it.”


Mr. DeSantis also signed into law Friday a bill that ends a carve-out for Disney from a social-media censorship law that is currently stalled in federal court.


“It’s so clearly being done out of revenge and punishment,” said Tina Polsky, a Democratic state senator from Boca Raton. “The governor is clearly taking action in response to the company speaking out against him. What businesses are going to want to come here, when if you cross the governor, he takes action against you?”


Disney initially didn’t comment on the Parental Rights in Education law, which bars classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation through third grade and limits it for older students to material that is “age-appropriate.” Disney later reversed course as it came under pressure from employees to oppose it. After it passed, the company pledged to push for its repeal and to fight similar bills in other states.


The revoking of Disney’s tax privileges comes as the company is expanding its presence in the state. Last summer, the company told roughly 2,000 workers in its Southern California offices their positions were relocating to the state. As part of the deal, Disney is expected to receive about $570 million in tax breaks over 20 years.


Write to Arian Campo-Flores at arian.campo-flores@wsj.com and Robbie Whelan at robbie.whelan@wsj.com

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