Florida goes to (tax) war against Disney

Disney set to lose Florida special tax status after LGBTQ law dispute

Fireworks explode over the Shanghai Disney Resort during the 5th anniversary celebration on June 15, 2021 in Shanghai, China. With the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic battering the tourism industry throughout the globe, Shanghai Disney Resort witnessed the fastest recovery in the world. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

April 21 (Reuters) - Florida legislators passed a bill on Thursday that would revoke Walt Disney Co's DIS.N special tax status in a move widely seen as tit-for-tat for the company's opposition to a new state law limiting discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools.

  • Bill passed by lawmakers now awaits governor’s approval
  • Disney set to lose benefit of special tax status
  • Disney condemned law limiting school discussion of LGBTQ issuesAdds political background, details on Walt Disney World, bullet points

The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis, who is all but guaranteed to sign it.

Several Republican-controlled states have made moves to restrict rights, often focused on transgender people, in battles that have pitted them against Democrats, ahead of midterm and other elections later this year.

The Republican-led state House in Florida voted 70-38 to do away with a special tax district created by a 1967 law that allows Disney to self-govern the roughly 25,000-acre Orlando area where its Walt Disney World theme park complex is located. The state Senate passed the measure on Wednesday.

DeSantis, in a surprise move, had asked lawmakers to consider the legislation during a special session he called this week. He did not immediately comment on the bill’s passage on Thursday.

The law would eliminate a handful of special tax districts including the Reedy Creek Improvement District that covers about 25,000 acres in Orange and Osceola counties.

That structure makes Disney, which is one of the state’s largest private employers, and other landowners responsible for providing services such as fire-fighting, power, water and roads. They in turn get relief from taxes and fees.

Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, is the company’s largest theme park. Its sprawling businesses also include movie studios, broadcast and cable television networks, streaming services, cruise lines and retail products.

The change would go into effect in June 2023.

Disney came under fire last month by many in the LGBTQ community, including some Disney employees, for initially failing to take a public stand against the measure, then condemned the legislation and said it would pause all its political donations in Florida. Read full story

That set off a storm of condemnation against the company by many Republicans.

DeSantis, a Republican who is a potential candidate for his party’s 2024 presidential nomination, wants to strike back at Disney for its opposition to a law that bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for students younger than about 9.

The governor signed the legislation, dubbed the “don’t say gay” bill by opponents, last month. Read full story

The law, which is to take effect on July 1, also prohibits such teaching that “is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate” for older students. It is being challenged in court.

Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

(Reporting by Maria Caspani in New York and Dawn Chmielewski in Los AngelesWriting by Maria Caspani and Costas Pitas; Editing by Leslie Adler and Matthew Lewis)


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Antoinette Jurgens says:

    “a law that bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for students younger than about 9 ” – meaning grades 1 – 3. Teachers have no business impressing their own ideas regarding sexual orientation and gender identity on these young kids. Parents choose what and how children learn about these matters at this age in a manner appropriate for their children.

  • Jaco Louw says:

    Good for Florida! I love how the media (Daily Maverick included) is framing these new laws as somehow discriminatory to LGBTQ. Don’t you find it concerning that Disney who specializes in creating children’s entertainment, is opposing a bill that bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for students younger than about 9?? Little children should be instructed by their parents on these subjects, NOT teachers. And at that young an age, children are not old enough to understand these concepts and could easily be brainwashed.

    The media needs to wake up on this issue. Just because the majority of the secular world’s media is left-leaning and quite radical about these gender-identity lunacy, does not make it right. Majority does not dictate truth. If you keep on supporting it, you will find yourself in a position where your daughter is forced to share a bathroom with a man purely because they’ve decided they’re a woman. Grow a backbone and speak the truth!

  • The person the two others are agreeing with.
    Has called slavery a mixed bag.

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