Gov. Ron DeSantis Unveils New Crackdown on Disney

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is not one to back down from a fight, particularly when it comes to what he sees as corporate overreach. The latest corporation to feel his wrath is none other than Disney, which recently attempted to undercut state supervision of its special tax district in the Sunshine State.

DeSantis is set to unveil new measures against the entertainment giant on Monday, following a move by Disney to strip the governor’s newly installed oversight board of authority. According to sources, DeSantis plans to announce plans by the state Legislature to void Disney’s controversial move, which officials called an illegal “poison pill.”

The governor is also seeking to revoke other privileges that Disney has enjoyed since its special tax district was established in 1967. For example, the Orlando park’s monorail and transportation systems have long been exempt from external inspections, along with its rides. However, new rules could now make Disney subject to those regulations.

DeSantis first clashed with Disney last year over its public opposition to a bill that banned instruction related to sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through the third grade. He accused the company of promoting unwelcome “Burbank” values in Florida while operating with near-total autonomy thanks to its special tax district.

In February, DeSantis sacked the five members of Disney’s self-governing Reedy Creek Improvement District and replaced them with his own “Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.” But just before leaving, members of the previous Disney-controlled board passed covenants that transferred developmental power to the company and left the new body largely toothless.

DeSantis’ critics, including former President Donald Trump, relished Disney’s apparent outflanking of their foe at the final hour. However, senior DeSantis administration officials say the company intentionally limited legally required public notices of the new agreement to shield it from scrutiny and ease its passage.

“The Florida Legislature and Governor DeSantis worked to put Disney on an even playing field,” said communications chief Taryn Fenske. “Disney got caught red-handed attempting to undermine Florida’s duly enacted legislation.”

The company has denied that it kept the plan from view and said the changes complied with Florida’s public meeting laws. Disney’s sprawling Florida operation includes four theme parks, two water parks, 25 hotels, and about 80,000 employees.

DeSantis’ willingness to tangle with influential corporate foes highlights his determination to wield state power in bringing them to heel. As a presumptive 2024 presidential candidate, he is not afraid of a fight, and he is likely to continue to use his position to hold corporations accountable.

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