- February 27, 2023
Florida House Rep. Spencer Roach said he and other state legislators have held two meetings regarding a potential repeal of the 1967 Reedy Creek Improvement Act.
That act created the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which in effect allows Disney to operate under its own government rather than that of Orange and Osceola counties.
Roach announced the meetings on Twitter March 30 — two days after Walt Disney Company issued a company statement regarding HB 1557, the Parental Rights in Education bill.
“Florida’s HB 1557 … should never have passed and should never have been signed into law,” Disney’s statement read. “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the Legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.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.”
In his announcement of discussions to repeal RCIA, Roach said, “If Disney wants to embrace woke ideology, it seems fitting that they should be regulated by Orange County.”
Roach also said the RCIA gives Disney a decisive advantage over companies such as SeaWorld Orlando and Universal Orlando, which do not operate their own governing bodies.
“This is simply an issue of free markets,” Roach tweeted. “Government should not be using the power of the state to pick winners and losers in the marketplace, which is exactly what is happening here. It’s wrong.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke about the idea of repealing the RCIA during a press conference Thursday, March 31.
“I would not say that would be retaliatory,” he said. “There are certain entities that have exerted a lot of influence through corporate means to generate special privileges in the law. I don’t think we should have special privileges in the law at all. Some of these things have developed over the years. I actually had to deal with this last year, when we passed a bill to protect Floridians from big-tech censorship. The idea was to be able to let them sue under the ‘Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act,’ protect political candidates from being de-platformed — stuff that was good. And it’s being litigated in the courts, which we knew it would. But at the 11th hour, the Legislature slips in a provision in that law that said, ‘If you operate a theme park, it doesn’t apply to you.’ And that was meant solely to protect Disney.
“I don’t think it is retaliatory,” DeSantis said. “I just think that Disney’s posturing alienated a lot of people now, and so the political influence they’re used to wielding, I think has dissipated. And so the question is why would you want to have special privileges in the law at all? And I don’t think that we should.”
The Reedy Creek Improvement District, created by a special act of the Florida Legislature and signed into law by former Gov. Claude Kirk Jr., gives Disney power to oversee decisions related to land-use regulation and planning, building codes, surface water control, drainage, waste treatment, utilities, roads, bridges, fire protection, emergency medical services, and environmental services.
The district includes about 25,000 acres in both Orange and Osceola counties, and services 19 landowners, including Walt Disney Company.
A five-member Board of Supervisors, elected by landowners, governs the district.