Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida announced new legislation that could force Disney to comply with state oversight of Disney theme parks in the state.
The announcement is the latest from DeSantis in what some say is a targeting of Disney, the largest private employer and corporate taxpayer in Florida.
A few weeks ago, DeSantis talked about the idea of raising taxes on Disney hotels and creating toll roads that lead to the theme parks. He also requested that Florida’s chief inspector general look into Disney’s efforts to avoid state oversight.
In the latest from DeSantis, he said he would be looking at reappraising the value of Walt Disney World for property tax levies and would also look into possibly developing land near the entrances to the park.
“Maybe create a state park, maybe try to do more amusement parks — someone even said, like, maybe you need another state prison,” DeSantis said at a news conference near Disney World.
Disney has not commented, but previously, Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, called DeSantis “anti-business” and “anti-Florida.”
According to reports, Disney is poised to invest another $17 billion into theme parks in the next 10 years, an investment that would create some 13,000 jobs.
DeSantis and Disney seemed to become at odds after DeSantis approved legislation that restricted how sexual orientation and gender identity is addressed in public schools.
Disney criticized the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and later made a statement that the bill “should never have passed.”
Disney sits on its own district created in 1967 that effectively gives it control over policing, road maintenance, development planning, and other measures.
As a “punishment” for Disney’s outspoken criticism of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, DeSantis signed a law that restricted Disney’s autonomy of its own district. He also appointed an oversight board for the district picked by himself.
“You’re a corporation based in Burbank, California, and you’re going to martial 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,” DeSantis said.
Meanwhile, in a last-ditch effort, the outgoing Disney-controlled oversight board approved a development agreement that would limit the new board’s authority for decades.
DeSantis said he’s hoping to introduce a new bill soon that would “revoke” the actions of the former board.
He also added that he’s looking at ways to give the state the authority to do ride safety and monorail transportation inspections.
“They are not superior to the laws that are enacted by the people of the state of Florida,” DeSantis said of Disney.
DeSantis has not officially declared he is running for president, but political experts say he is the leading Republican contender in the next presidential race.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Travis Gergen
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.