DeSantis Signs Bill that Gives Him More Control of Disney’s Special District

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill that gives him power over Disney’s self-governing district. The move effectively punished the entertainment giant for speaking out against the Republican’s political agenda.

Last year, DeSantis called on state lawmakers to strip Disney of its special district after the company spoke out against the controversial Parental Rights in Education Act, which critics dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law. 

Since the ’60s, Disney World has been able to operate as an independent government in its Orlando-area theme parks. Now, under the new law, DeSantis can replace the district’s five-member board with his personal picks. 

The district’s also being renamed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. 

Disney has said it’s ready to work with the new framework.

DeSantis announced his appointments to the reconstructed board, including Martin Garcia, a Tampa lawyer and prolific Republican donor whose private investment firm contributed $50,000 to DeSantis’ reelection, and Bridget Ziegler, a Sarasota County School Board member who was a co-founder of the conservative organization Moms for Liberty and the wife of Christian Ziegler, the new chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

The move against Disney comes nearly a year after the company spoke out against a Florida bill – which DeSantis later signed into law – to restrict certain classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity. 

In March of last year, as an outrage against the legislation spread nationwide, Disney released a statement vowing to help get the law repealed or struck down by the courts and saying the company was “dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as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.”

DeSantis was not a fan of Disney’s response and retaliated. 

DeSantis responded by calling on lawmakers to strip Disney of its special governing power, which they did last year. 

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