The Florida legislature will be meeting this week in a special session to discuss the future of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. This is the entity that allows Walt Disney World Resort special governing powers. The special session will begin on Monday and also include other initiatives of Governor Ron DeSantis.
Currently the goal of the special session for Republican leaders is to create a new chapter for the Reedy Creek Improvement District that has been in place since it was created in 1967. Reedy Creek allows Disney control of the land around Walt Disney World Resort. It was dissolved by the Florida legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis last year after former Disney CEO Bob Chapek publicly criticized a bill that restricted instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. Known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Chapek initially was silent on the matter but then came out publicly against it after an outcry by Disney employees and fans. DeSantis then demanded that the legislature dissolve the district in a special session in April 2022. As the law currently reads, Reedy Creek is set to be resolved in June 2023.
At this point, however, lawmakers do not have a plan for how Reedy Creek actually will be dissolved in a way that won’t bout Orange and Osceola county residents on the hook for funding Reedy Creek or absorb its $1 billion in debt. In the last year Reedy Creek has told bondholders that it can’t be dissolved without Florida assuming its debts. Governor DeSantis has said that taxpayers will not be picking up the debt. How that will happen has not been revealed yet.
It appears that Governor DeSantis plans to see Florida take control of the district. “We’re not going to have a corporation controlling its own government; that’s going to be reverted to the state,” he said in a recent press conference. “Disney will not have governing self-governing status anymore. We’re going to make sure that there are no special legal privileges … and then making sure they’re paying their fair share of taxes and paying the debt.”
As of the end of the day on Friday, the actual legislative framework for how this will happen has not been filed with the state. A DeSantis spokesperson has not provided any updates on this. However, House and Senate leaders have said they are coordinating with the governor’s office.
What the next chapter will look like for Reedy Creek Improvement District might become clearer this week, if a plan comes together and can be agreed upon. Daps Magic will continue to follow this story and provide updates as they become available. What do you think will happen next? What do you think should happen? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!