The Reedy Creek Improvement District at Disney World will be the subject of a special session of the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature scheduled for the following week. A spokesperson for Governor Ron DeSantis, Bryan Griffin, confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that “the governor’s office anticipates a special session next week on Reedy Creek and other items,” suggesting that there may be increased pressure on the governor’s office to pass legislation before the regular session, which is set to begin in early March.
The governor may call a special session on his own or by the agreement of the legislature leaders under Florida law. Griffin gave no further explanation as to what the “other goods” will be. The leaders of the House and Senate made no remarks on the special session right away. The special district, known as Reedy Creek Improvement District, was established by Florida lawmakers more than 50 years ago and has been administered by the entertainment conglomerate for over 50 years.
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Following Disney officials’ opposition to a new rule restricting how s*xual orientation and gender identity are addressed in public schools, lawmakers moved swiftly to dissolve Reedy Creek during a special session last year. The law, dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by its opponents, forbids teachers from teaching pupils in kindergarten through third grade about their s*xual orientation and gender identity in the classroom. LGBTQ+ advocates warn that the policy may encourage more bullying or student suicide.
At first, DeSantis wasn’t the driving force behind the controversial measure, but he became a supporter of it and helped pass the subsequent proposal to deprive Disney of its special status. Currently seen as a potential presidential candidate, DeSantis frequently cited his conflict with Disney on the campaign trail last year as evidence of his opposition to “woke” businesses.
While passing a bill to target Reedy Creek, lawmakers chose not to address lingering concerns about district debts and whether they would be passed on to local taxpayers. DeSantis has promised to create a plan to ensure taxpayers won’t be held accountable for their debts. Early in January, the administration claimed to have developed a method to give the state control over the special district while also guaranteeing that Disney would be held accountable for any prior obligations.
According to Taryn Fenske, a representative for DeSantis, “the corporate kingdom has come to an end.”
State Sen. Linda Stewart, an Orlando Democrat whose central Florida district is close to Disney World, said in a message that “we have not received anything yet! Just been hearing rumors for the last couple of weeks.”
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DeSantis has relied more and more on special sessions to complete high-priority legislation, a decision that ensures more consistent media coverage—including among supportive conservative outlets—than during the somewhat hectic 60-day regular session where several contentious issues may be debated concurrently. In the session set to begin in March, Florida state lawmakers are anticipated to consider a significant expansion of vouchers, a bill to do away with concealed weapons permits, and even additional abortion restrictions.
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