THE VILLAGES, Fla. - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Tuesday that he is calling on lawmakers to consider legislation in a special session to dismantle special protections for Disney operating in Florida following the company’s opposition to a controversial parental rights bill.
"I am announcing today that we are expanding the call of what they are going to be considering," DeSantis said during a press conference at The Villages in Florida. "Yes, they will be considering the congressional map, but they also will be considering termination of all special districts that were enacted in Florida prior to 1968 and that includes the Reedy Creek Improvement District."
DeSantis, whose comment drew applause from the crowd, has previously hinted at his support for repealing a 55-year-old state law that allows Disney to effectively govern itself on the grounds of Walt Disney World Resort.
"What I would say as a matter of first principle is I don’t support special privileges in law just because a company is powerful, and they’ve been able to wield a lot of power," DeSantis said during a press conference last month.
"I think what has happened is there’s a lot of these special privileges that are not justifiable, but because Disney had held so much sway, they were able to sustain a lot of special treatment over the years," he added.
DeSantis also issued a proclamation outlining various reasons Disney's special status should be revoked.
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 swamp land.
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 has been engaged in a war of words with Republicans in Florida over a bill recently signed by DeSantis 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."
Shortly after the bill was signed, Disney released a statement slamming the bill while echoing media headlines by labeling it the "Don't Say Gay" bill.
"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."
The bill does not ban the word "gay" in school settings and it does not ban casual discussions of topics relating to sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom.
Recent polling has shown that the bill is popular among Florida voters including 52% of likely voters in the Democratic primary who say that they oppose the kind of teaching that the bill prohibits.
Florida State Rep. Spencer Roach has previously tweeted that he has met with legislators to discuss repealing the self-governing law in response to Disney’s recent actions.
"Yesterday was the 2nd meeting in a week w/fellow legislators to discuss a repeal of the 1967 Reedy Creek Improvement Act, which allows Disney to act as its own government," Roach tweeted. "If Disney wants to embrace woke ideology, it seems fitting that they should be regulated by Orange County."
Disney did not immediately to a request for comment from Fox News.
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