Disney v. DeSantis: Where the issue is

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men the year-long conflict between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Disney, both parties are standing.

What began as Disney’s public criticism of Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law – which originally banned schools from discussing gender and sexuality through the third grade, but it was recently expanded to affect students through grade 12 – to be. a series of legal battles and demonstrations of political power.

Disney filed a lawsuit on April 26 against DeSantis and the five-member board that oversees Walt Disney World’s self-governing powers, after the governor spent months removing the company from has special authority – such as new buildings without a county permit. The First Amendment lawsuit was filed in federal court.

On Friday, DeSantis’ attorney filed a motion to disqualify U.S. District Judge Mark Walker from presiding over the trial. (The judge previously referred to the fight between Disney and DeSantis in two unrelated suits over free speech and fear of retaliation, which the governor’s lawyer says calls into question impartiality Walker.) The move came a day after Disney, the state’s largest taxpayer, announced. that they would not build a billion dollar office complex that would bring 2,000 jobs to the area.

DeSantis, who said last week there is “zero chance” he would “endorse the fight,” is set to announce his presidential bid in the coming weeks.

Here’s what you know about the ongoing battle between DeSantis and Disney.

Short schedule

The conflict began in March 2022 when Disney openly criticized the governor for the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act, or “Don’t Say Gay” law, after Disney employees protested against the new legislation .

Amid pressure from his employees, then-Disney CEO Bob Chapek addressed the company’s stance on the issue, saying that Disney was “against the bill from the beginning” and that they did not the first public stance because the company felt it would be “more. work effectively behind the scenes.”

The conflict between DeSantis and Disney escalated, prompting Florida’s governor to ask state lawmakers to revoke Disney’s autonomy privileges on April 19, 2022. DeSantis signed legislation stripping the company of the their exclusive regulatory and taxing jurisdiction just three days later. That law was designed to go into effect starting June 1, 2023. Because the district had $1 billion in bond debt that would be liable to taxpayers, a special legislative session in February 2023 allowed Disney retain their special tax district status, but still be free to choose who can sit on their board.

DeSantis expanded his control over Disney in February 2023, when state lawmakers gave him the power to handpick members to the board that oversees Disney World’s government services. The new members chosen by the governor were appointed on February 27, but before they could take power, the previous board members signed a contract that limited the powers of the boards to maintain “roads and infrastructure,” board member Ron Peri reportedly said. the Orlando Sentinel.

“We need to address it and fix it,” board member Brian Aungst Jr. said Sentinel. “It’s a reversal of the will of the voters and the Legislature and the governor. It completely circumvents the authority of this board to rule.”

Disney filed a lawsuit against DeSantis and his new board members in late April, saying the governor was targeting Disney in a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney as retaliation for expressing a political view. ”

The new regional board opposed the Orlando company in an attempt to reinstate the board’s powers. However, Florida lawmakers later passed a law that empowered the new board to void the contract that made the board powerless. On May 16, Disney asked an Orange County judge to dismiss the suit.

What were the powers of autonomy at Disney?

In 1967, Florida lawmakers created the Reedy Creek Development District (RCID), a local government agency that oversees Walt Disney World and aimed to manage “economic development and tourism” within its jurisdiction, which according to an archived version of the RCID. website.

The district manages more than 25,000 acres in Orange and Osceola counties. Since Walt Disney World owns most of the property in the area, it is responsible for managing public services such as fire protection, emergency medical services, water and more for the area, The Hill reports.

Under this special tax status, Disney had the freedom to build roads and buildings without seeking permission from the county and run as its own county government. RCID board members have previously been selected by Disney.

In April 2022, Gov. DeSantis signed a law that sought to dissolve the RCID beginning June 1, 2023. ). Under that law, the governor changed the RCID to the Central Florida Tourism Research District, with a five-member board appointed by the governor. Board members cannot have ties to Disney.

What does Disney’s first amendment lawsuit allege?

Disney CEO Bob Iger had long expressed dismay in the fight against the Sunshine State governor, saying his policies were “not just anti-Florida but anti-business.” That anger eventually led Disney to sue DeSantis and his new board members in late April, saying the governor was targeting Disney in a “relentless campaign to weaponize the government’s power.” -face Disney in retaliation for showing a political view. ”

The governor’s actions, the lawsuits say, affect Disney’s business and economic future, and are a violation of the company’s right to free speech.

DeSantis has repeatedly threatened Disney with retaliation including the creation of a state prison, a state park, or a tax increase on Walt Disney World.

“They’re going to live under the same laws as everybody else, they’re going to pay their fair share of taxes and they’re not going to govern themselves,” DeSantis said Friday according to Hill. “And it’s not good policy to put one corporation on a pedestal and let them be exempt from the laws. It’s not free market economics, and it’s not something the our state to be involved.”

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