Special Session of Florida Legislature About Reedy Creek Improvement District Scheduled for Monday

The Florida legislature has scheduled a special session to discuss, among other topics, the government takeover of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District.

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The special session will take place on Monday, February 6, 2023.

According to Governor Ron DeSantis, a bill for the Florida government to take control of Reedy Creek Improvement District is in the works. It has not yet been filed.

In January, Osceola County posted a notice that the Florida Legislature would be taking up the Reedy Creek issue. The notice stated the aim was “removing and revising powers of the District; increasing state oversight, accountability, and transparency of the District,” and others. The new legislation will create a state-controlled board for the district.

Osceola County residents filed a lawsuit against DeSantis over the possibility that taxpayers would shoulder Disney’s over $1 billion debt, but that may not move forward now.

Governor DeSantis aimed to get rid of Reedy Creek Improvement District after Disney publicly denounced Florida’s controversial Parental Rights in Education bill, commonly referred to by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The Florida Senate and House quickly passed a bill to this effect and DeSantis signed it into law on April 22, 2022.

The Reedy Creek Improvement District was established by a 1967 act signed by Republican Governor Claude R. Kirk Jr. The act allowed Disney to get the money and resources they needed to build Walt Disney World without constantly going through local governments. Through the act, landowners within the district, including Walt Disney World, are solely responsible for paying the cost of providing municipal services. That is, local taxpayers do not have to pay for these services.

The district essentially acts as its own county government and encompasses the cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, with fewer than 100 residents total. Residents of the two communities elect their city officials. The district is run by a five-member Board of Supervisors, elected by landowners (not residents), essentially leaving Disney as the sole controller.

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