Florida State Senator Linda Stewart is preparing to file a bill seeking to repeal Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ takeover of the former Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID), which was replaced by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD), per the Orlando Sentinel.
Proposed Bill to Undo DeSantis Takeover
According to Stewart, CFTOD has “been plagued by cronyism and sagging employee morale” since DeSantis took over in February. In October, it was reported that over 30 employees left the District due to an “uncomfortable,” “stressful,” and “toxic” work environment. Most recently, two officials and two other employees of the District were fired amid this news.
I am looking at every avenue possible to get this overturned. We are going to try to get people to vote and see how many people still believe in how they voted the first time.Senator Linda Stewart.
The legislative delegation of Orange County will convene to discuss the bill on November 29, after the Thanksgiving holiday.
According to the Sentinel, Stewart will face an uphill battle, as DeSantis’ Republican allies control the legislature, and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo supported the takeover of the former RCID. Prior to CFTOD, Disney utilized RCID to self-govern its theme park properties since 1967.
There is a possibility that the bill could pick up bipartisan support from Republican State Senator Joe Gruters, who “signaled in a text message to the Orlando Sentinel” that he would consider supporting the bill. Gruters is backing DeSantis’ presidential opponent, Former President Donald Trump.
Gruters also previously voted against signing an amendment to void Disney’s control over development in Central Florida.
This is the latest problem for CFTOD, as they recently had a visit from a group called “Disney Defenders” at a District meeting. The group is collecting signatures for two petitions: one to restore RCID, and another to prevent political retaliation. The group gifted the District Board members “pink slips,” stating they were “all on notice that once these positions get the signatures needed, [they] will restore Reedy Creek and [their] services will no longer be needed.”
Disney vs. DeSantis & CFTOD
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Walt Disney Company initially clashed over the corporation’s opposition to a much-debated and controversial Florida law regarding classroom instruction and discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools, alongside various other recent state laws and proposals in a similar vein.
Now-former CEO Bob Chapek initially remained silent and passive on the issue — until massive internal criticisms from Cast Members, the LGBTQ+ community, and controversy over Disney making hefty political contributions to campaigns and individuals allegedly against their own stated human principles came into focus. Former and future CEO Bob Iger also condemned the law.
After Chapek finally denounced the law, Governor DeSantis moved forward with various verbal and legal assaults on Disney, including the attempted dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Ultimately, the District was renamed and DeSantis appointed his own Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors.
DeSantis is attacking what he calls “woke politics” allegedly invading the state — frequently stating his intention to put the people of Florida first through his actions and via the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District:
Disney has gotten away with special deals from the state of Florida for way too long. It took a look under the hood to see what Disney has become to truly understand their inappropriate influence.
After the CFTOD Board attempted to declare Disney’s final agreements with RCID null and void, Disney filed a federal lawsuit against the Board and DeSantis, calling their actions a violation of their constitutional rights.
In the lawsuit, Disney cites “A targeted campaign of government retaliation—orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech—now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights.”
Disney regrets that it has come to this. But having exhausted efforts to seek a resolution, the Company is left with no choice but to file this lawsuit to protect its cast members, guests, and local development partners from a relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint unpopular with certain State officials.
The Board then filed a state lawsuit against Disney. The company is now countersuing on the state level, arguing that because RCID was never actually dissolved, the CFOTD is essentially the same entity and is returning to its word.
DeSantis said that the state of Florida had “won the battle” against Disney in a mid-November interview.