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Tipsheet

Florida Senate Passes Bill Stripping Disney World of Special Status

AP Photo/John Raoux, File

Florida's Senate passed a bill on Wednesday during a special session that would dissolve the special tax district that has allowed Walt Disney World to enjoy autonomy since 1967 as the showdown between the Walt Disney Company and Florida's leaders over a new parental rights law continues.

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The Florida Senate's 23-16 vote comes after Republican Governor Ron DeSantis called for the Florida legislature to expand its special session to review the privileges granted to Disney World, and the measure now heads to the Florida House which is also led by Republicans. If passed in the lower chamber of Florida's legislature, DeSantis is expected to sign the bill to eliminate Disney World's special tax and operational status.

On Tuesday this week, Governor DeSantis issued a special proclamation to amend the special session of the Florida legislature to consider "legislation relating to independent special districts" and emphasizing the need to review Disney World's special status:

WHEREAS, the Florida Constitution of 1885 did not prohibit special laws granting privileges to private corporations; and

WHEREAS, the Florida Constitution was revised by the Florida electorate on November 5, 1968; and 

WHEREAS the Florida Constitution of 1968 generally disfavors special laws as opposed to general laws, but permits the creation of independent special districts that appropriately serve the public interest; and 

WHEREAS, Article III, Section 11(a)(12) of the Florida Constitution of 1968 prohibits special laws granting privileges to private corporations; and

WHEREAS, independent special districts exist that were established prior to November 5, 1968, and that have not been re-established, ratified, or otherwise reconstituted by a special act or general law after November 5, 1968; and

WHEREAS, it is necessary to review such independent special districts to ensure that they are appropriately serving the public interest; and

WHEREAS, it is also necessary to consider whether such independent special districts and should be subject to the special law requirements of the Florida Constitution of 1968; and

WHEREAS, it is further necessary to periodically review exceptions to generally applicable laws that are given to select corporations; ...

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Governor DeSantis' proclamation highlights the fact that Disney's status is unique among private Florida companies — and even among the state's theme parks. 

As NBC8 explained, "Unlike other theme parks in the state, when Disney wants to build a building, fill in a lake, or pave a road on their property, they don’t have to seek permits or approval." The special status for Disney is not enjoyed by other Orlando attractions, either. 

"Other developers have to play by different rules, Universal Studios has to play by different rules and so Disney really does have an unfair business advantage," Rollins College Professor Emeritus Richard Foglesong told the NBC affiliate. 

The liberal media, as usual, continues to read the situation entirely wrong as seen Wednesday from MSNBC's Symone Sanders who just recently was a senior communications staffer in the office of Vice President Kamala Harris. 

Sanders said "my money is on the Disney lobbyists, honey" on Meet the Press Daily. "Do you think those state legislators down in Florida are going to bend to the will of the governor? No," she said confidently.  

Host Chuck Todd then pointed out that Florida's Senate "just passed this bill."

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