The political conflict between The Walt Disney Company and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis continues.
The conflict started when the Reedy Creek Improvement District suddenly changed to the DeSantis-appointed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District in February 2023. We’ve seen lawsuits surrounding the matter since the changes took effect. First, the Board sued Disney, then Disney countersued the Board, and the future of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District remains to be seen. Recently, a new development suggested that the old Reedy Creek Improvement District could be restored, but a Republican-led walkout may impact things going forward.
On November 29th, Orange County had a legislative delegation meeting, which, in part, was set to address Democratic efforts to repeal the DeSantis-established Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.
During the meeting, three Republican state lawmakers reportedly walked out early, “derailing consideration of a Democratic effort to repeal Gov. Ron DeSantis’ takeover of Disney World’s special district,” per the Orlando Sentinel.
Senators Jason Brodeur and Dennis Baxley and Representative Doug Bankson left the meeting just before members were set to vote on restoring Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District, according to the Orlando Sentinel. None of the three men cited the Disney bill as their reason for departure; instead, they stated that they were upset with the delegation’s rules for choosing leaders.
While those who remained in the meeting voted 7-0 to advance the bill, the vote was later marked invalid as there were not enough members present. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Representative Anna Eskamani, chair of the delegation, stated, “It’s disrespectful to the staff who spent hours preparing for this meeting and to the more than 100 members of the public who signed up to speak,” adding “I can only assume this was less about delegation rules and more about Republican lawmakers not wanting to take a vote on restoring Reedy Creek.”
Senator Brodeur stated that he was upset about a rule that requires the delegation’s leadership to have at least 50% of their district in Orange County. “I don’t want to participate in a kangaroo court for whom the outcomes are already pre-determined,” he claimed, per the Orlando Sentinel.
We will continue to share updates on this ongoing situation. Stay tuned for more Disney news.