Bill Overhauling Reedy Creek Improvement District Passes Florida Senate, Heads to Gov. DeSantis’ Desk

After the Florida House of Representatives passed the bill that would overhaul the Reedy Creek Improvement District yesterday, the Florida Senate has also passed the bill.

UPDATE – 3:50 p.m. ET – 2/10/23:

  • In response to the passing of this bill, Walt Disney World Resort President Jeff Vahle released the following statement:
    • “For more than 50 years, the Reedy Creek Improvement District has operated at the highest standards, and we appreciate all that the District has done to help our destination grow and become one of the largest economic contributors and employers in the state. We are focused on the future and are ready to work within this new framework, and we will continue to innovate, inspire and bring joy to the millions of guests who come to Florida to visit Walt Disney World each year.”
  • This statement indicates that there will likely be no battle against the passing of the bill on Disney’s behalf, as they are prepared to work with the new state-run board.

What’s Happening:

  • The bill that would put control of Walt Disney World’s governing body into the hands of the Florida government overwhelmingly passed the Florida Senate with a vote of 26-9.
  • It now moves to Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk, where he is expected to sign it into law.
  • Following the vote, sponsor of the bill Senator Hutson said that he is going to Disney World and “hopes he’s allowed in.”
  • The bill will change how the district’s landowners elect board members as Disney would previously handpick the board members of Reedy Creek as they were the primary landowners.
  • Now, the governor will appoint those members, subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.
  • An amendment was proposed that would have expanded the board to seven, but also include local leaders, and change the way other members were appointed. The amendment was ultimately shut down via a voice vote.
  • The new bill would also rename Reedy Creek as the “Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.”
  • Bill sponsor Rep. Fred Hawkins of St. Cloud noted that “all that visit the park, nothing has changed; day to day it will be the same.”
  • Outstanding debt, contracts, and tax collection would not be affected, according to the bill, and would not be transferred to local taxpayers as was originally feared by some familiar with the matter.
  • This special session is the culmination after a very public feud with the Walt Disney Company and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, which he called a “Woke” corporation, after the company opposed the controversial bill DeSantis approved, commonly referred to by opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
  • We talked more about the proposed changes to Reedy Creek in a recent LPTV News Update:

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