DeSantis Empowers New Board to Void Disney Agreements

On Friday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law, allowing the newly-formed Central Tourism Oversight District Board to cancel development agreements with Disney, according to a report from Reuters.

The bill was passed primarily along party lines in the Republican-controlled legislature.

The board, which is appointed by DeSantis, has the authority to void deals made up to three months prior to its inception.

During a news conference, DeSantis stated, “Make no mistake about it, the reason why the legislature had to act was not because of anything we did.”

He went on to explain, “It was basically born out of Disney’s arrogance that they would be able to subcontract around the duly enacted laws of the state of Florida. That’s wrong.”

In February, the Central Tourism Oversight District Board was established to replace the Disney-controlled Reedy Creek Improvement District, Reuters notes.

This move transferred oversight of the 25,000-acre area around Walt Disney World from the entertainment giant to the DeSantis administration.

Disney is central Florida’s largest employer, and tensions between the company and the Republican governor have been escalating since last year.

The dispute began when Disney expressed disapproval of a new state law that prohibits teaching about sexuality and so-called “gender identity” to young children.

DeSantis has repeatedly criticized “woke Disney” in public statements.

Before the new board was installed, Disney rushed to modify the special tax district agreement, effectively restricting the new body’s power for decades.

However, in April, the Central Tourism Oversight District Board declared Disney’s proposed expansion plans for Disney World non-compliant with state law, voiding the agreement.

Subsequently, Disney filed a federal lawsuit against DeSantis, accusing him of illegally using government power to retaliate against the company for exercising its freedom of speech.

In response, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board launched its own state court lawsuit.