What Would Happen If Florida Revoked Disney’s Special Governing Arrangement?

PJ Media

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The passing of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signing of it into law have escalated into a tense war between the increasingly solid red state and The Walt Disney Corporation, which continues to double down on its heavily pro-LGBT stance.
Disney has vowed to fight for the repeal of the law despite the fact that it reflects the values of parents throughout the state — as well as many of the company’s cast members (which is what Disney calls its employees).

But, just as we’ve expected from Florida’s governor, DeSantis isn’t simply rolling over — he’s fighting back.

On Friday, my PJ Media colleague Rick Moran wrote that DeSantis and other GOP legislators in the Sunshine State have mused about repealing the legislation that gave Disney its own governmental authority over the Walt Disney Word property over 50 years ago.

I predicted that this could be a nuclear option for DeSantis last month when I wrote, “If Disney did criticize Florida too harshly, the state could play hardball and threaten to revoke the legislation that created the company’s special quasi-governmental designation, the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which allows the company to operate with less interference from the state and county governments.”

Many of you have wondered what exactly that means, but first, let me give you a little background into Disney’s special governing authority, which is called the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

I’ve written tons about Disney history here at PJ Media and in my book Neon Crosses (which you really should buy). In Neon Crosses, I explained the concept behind the creation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

“Before Walt died, the legal team discovered a somewhat obscure Florida law that allowed for the creation of special improvement districts with a different form of governance than a traditional municipality. Bob Foster convinced Walt that petitioning the state legislature to allow Disney to govern its own property under that law was the way to go. An improvement district would grant the company exemptions from local building codes and would allow Disney to create its own first response and telecommunications services.”

Creating the Reedy Creek Improvement District allowed Disney to develop state-of-the-art communications systems that no one else had ever tried, implement innovative environmental control measures, and build unique buildings all without local government interference.

The Reedy Creek Improvement District does a lot of work on Disney’s vast property. Blog Mickey breaks it down:

• 134 miles of roadways and 67 miles of waterways built and maintained
• 250,000 daily guests
• 6-8 minute response time for fire and EMS
• 60,000 tons of waste managed
• 30 tons of aluminum, paper, steel cans, cardboard and plastic containers recycled every year
• 22,800 water samples collected by RCID scientists from 1,500 locations on the property for testing every year
• 90,000 analyses conducted to make sure that water quality meets or exceeds state and national standards. Water draining from the south end of the District is generally cleaner than when it entered Reedy Creek at its north end.
• 2,000 vendors, suppliers and contractors used to provide a high level of public services for visitors

That’s a ton of service to the guests and cast members at Walt Disney World. So what would happen if the state revoked the Reedy Creek Improvement District?

Orlando’s News 6 political analyst Jim Clark reported that “It would be a disaster for Disney. One of the reasons they came here in the mid-60s was the legislature’s promise that they could have self-government.”

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