TALLAHASSEE - The Florida House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday that would dissolve Walt Disney World’s special governing power in the state.
The bill will now head to the desk of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis who has been involved in a war of words with the company after it publicly opposed a bill he signed which prohibits classroom instruction on "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" with children in third grade or younger "or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards."
The passage in the Florida House comes the day after the Florida Senate passed the measure by a vote of 23-16 to dissolve Disney's special status that it was granted by the state over 50 years ago.
The special status, known as The Reedy Creek Improvement Act, was signed into law in May 1967 by Gov. Claude Kirk in response to lobbying efforts by Disney. The entertainment giant proposed building a recreation-oriented development on 25,000 acres of property in a remote area of Central Florida's Orange and Osceola counties, which consisted of 38.5 square miles of largely uninhabited pasture and swampland.
Orange and Osceola County did not have the services or resources needed to bring the project to life, so the state legislature worked with Disney to establish the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a special taxing district that allows the company to act with the same authority and responsibility as a county government.
Disney released a statement shortly after DeSantis signed the parental rights bill vowing to help fight the law 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," Disney said. "Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.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."
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