Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bill to void Disney development deals

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Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference in the Cabinet Room at the end of the 2023 Florida legislative session on Friday, May 5, 2023.

Alicia Devine | Tallahassee Democrat via AP

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation Friday that effectively voids development agreements disney He was killed shortly before the governor elected a new board of supervisors to oversee the company’s Orlando parks.

The development deals are at the center of the latest battle in a years-long war between Disney and DeSantis, a Republican, one of Florida’s biggest employers. Gearing up for the 2024 presidential campaign.

The governor’s office confirmed the signing of the bill. Press release which did not contain any other information or comment about the law.

Bill, Joe pass The state’s Republican-majority Legislature kicked out a day earlier, following a vote by DeSantis’ board members to invalidate the deals, claiming they were struck illegally. Disney says the contracts were designed to help with its long-term development plans amid rising tensions with DeSantis and his partners.

Members of both parties, including Trump, have criticized DeSantis’ battle with Disney.

“This feud between DeSantis and Disney is insane,” Linda Stewart, a Democrat who represents Florida’s 13th Senate District, told CNBC. “Every day it seems like there’s one more way they want to try to make things more difficult for Disney, but all they’re doing is spending taxpayers’ money hiring lawyers to try to get what they want.” are doing to protect him.”

Stewart voted against the recent legislation.

Disney sued DeSantis and board members last week, alleging a campaign of political vendetta led by the governor. The board countered days later.

Disney declined to comment.

The feud began a year earlier, when Disney denounced a Republican-backed Florida bill to limit classroom discussion about sexual orientation and gender ideology, dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by critics.

Shortly thereafter, DeSantis and his allies moved to dissolve the Special District, which had allowed Walt Disney World to essentially control its own operations since the 1960s.

The 25,000-acre area, previously called the Reedy Creek Improvement District, was ultimately retained—but given a new name, and its five-member board replaced with figures chosen by DeSantis.

In March, the new board accused Disney of crafting 11th-hour deals that undermine its power. Disney says its contacts were publicly forged, and they do not undermine the board’s oversight of the district’s operations.

The company’s federal civil lawsuit asks the court to “restrain the State of Florida from weaponizing the government’s power to punish private business.”

DeSantis signs bill canceling Disney deals last day of Florida’s 2023 legislative session. The governor, who was re-elected in the November midterms, is seen as a top potential rival to former President Donald Trump for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.

The legislature, which bears Republican supremacy in both chambers, churned out bills that helped implement DeSantis’ broad conservative agenda — with a focus on divisive cultural issues that would resonate in a Republican primary race Could

DeSantis has continued his attacks on Disney, even as the drawn-out battle has prompted some Republicans to question his strategy.

In addition to canceling development deals, the Florida Legislature passed a measure requiring the state Department of Transportation to inspect Walt Disney World’s monorail. Stewart said Disney hasn’t had any major safety issues with its monorail system since 2009. one operator died After the collision of two vehicles. He questioned the timing of the new measure.

“It’s so clear that this is about retribution,” Stewart said.

Earlier this month, the state education board had given a nod Expansion Classroom bill that sparked controversy with Disney.