Experts Claim Plans to Dissolve Reedy Creek Improvement District Could Negate Statute Requiring Local Vote, Terms May Change Before Law Goes Into Effect

With Florida’s Senate and House of Representatives voting to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District this week, Disney will likely take to the courts to stop the law from being enacted. But the company’s efforts may be further complicated due to language in the bill, according to the Orlando Business Journal‘s Richard Bilbao.

Bilbao writes that while Statute 189.072, which was enacted in 2015, says that dissolution may only occur when a majority of the district’s residents vote to approve it, the bill that passed through the legislature this week includes the term “notwithstanding [Statute] 189.072.” The idea behind this language, according to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Randy Fine, is that their “perspective is that they’ve written the bill in such as way to say it’s overriding anything that exists in statute that might pertain to the dissolution of Reedy Creek.”

David Ramba, executive director with the Florida Association of Special Districts Inc., notes that “the statute is current law, but the bill adds a new section that doesn’t require that. Hence the Legislature changes the law.” Ramba added that things could also prove to be more optimistic for Disney, as the law wouldn’t go into effect until June 2023. With elections taking place this November, the district could very well be reconstituted with changes that satisfy both lawmakers and Disney, claiming “once they get to the details, you can get 85%-90% of what’s currently in operation reenacted next year.”

Still, it’s going to be a fight in the courts, according to Aubrey Jewett, associate professor and assistant school director at the University of Central Florida’s School of Politics, Security and International Affairs, who expressed concern as to the rapid speed with which the bill was passed, saying “if the Legislature introduced this through regular session, held committee hearings and brought in interest parties, lawyers, accountants and Disney, they could have worked through a lot.”

The move to dissolve the RCID, which manages the land on which Walt Disney World operates and provides municipal services like firefighters and waste management, came in retaliation to Disney’s vocal opposition to the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which passed last month. For more information, please read our breakdown of what could happen if the dissolution of the district happens.

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