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  • Writer's pictureGotta Go Orlando

Proposed Amendments to Reedy Creek Improvement District Bill Seek to Limit Gov DeSantis power grab

Updated: Feb 9, 2023

On, Monday, February 6, Florida lawmakers took part in special session to discuss the governments proposed takeover of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District.

A 189 page bill, House Bill 9B confirmed that the Reedy Creek Improvement District would not be dissolved on June 1 as previously announced. Instead, it will be re-named the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, a government-controlled district that would elect a board of supervisors, who would then be expected to propose a list of changes to the district’s power within one year.

The bill states that all 5 board members would be personally approved by DeSantis, with confirmation from the senate.

Plus, anyone who has been a theme park employee, officer or director in the past three years would be prohibited from serving on the board, along with their relatives, meaning DeSantis will have a large say in the future of Walt Disney World, via the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

In effect, Disney will lose control of the district upon the creation of the board of supervisors, whom are selected exclusively by DeSantis.

The latest today, Wednesday, February 8

Ahead of a State Affairs Committee meeting that will take place at 2 pm today, various representatives have proposed a number of amendments to House Bill 9B – the bill detailing how the State of Florida seeks to take over the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

The amendments are being proposed by Rep. Eskamani and Rep. Harris,who are seeking to change the language of the bill to ultimately prevent too much power falling into the hands of Gov DeSantis.

One of the new proposed amendments expands the board from five to seven.

Three members would be appointed by the Cabinet and confirmed by the Senate.

The other seats would be for the mayor of Orange County, the mayor of Orlando, the mayor of Kissimmee, and the chair of the Osceola Board of Country Commissioners.

Other proposed amendments further limit who can be appointed to the board of directors.

They would not allow people who have previously contributed to a political committee affiliated with the governor or to the governor’s re-election campaign.

Board members would not be allowed to have held elected office in the ten years preceding their appointment nor have been an elevated official in the past ten years.

Another amendment also ensures the governor would not be able to appoint people based on bribes:

The Governor, on his or her own behalf or on behalf of any other person, may not accept anything of value, including, but not limited to, campaign contributions or transportation free of charge on privately owned aircraft, from a vendor, contractor, company, or other person financially affiliated with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

After the details of the189 page bill, House Bill 9B were made public on Monday, Walt Disney World President Jeff Vahle has issued a short statemen

“We are monitoring the progression of the draft legislation, which is complex given the long history of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Disney works under a number of different models and jurisdictions around the world, and regardless of the outcome, we remain committed to providing the highest quality experience for the millions of guests who visit each year,”

On face value, the statement appears to play down the impact of the proposed changes, and for now it's very much business as usual at Walt Disney World.

Walt Disney World President Jeff Vahle

The Reedy Creek Improvement District is a special purpose district created by state law in May 1967 that gives The Walt Disney Company governmental control over the land in and around its central Florida theme parks.

At the time, the land Walt Disney wanted to build his Kingdom on was little more than uninhabited pasture and swamp, but Orange and Osceola Counties did not have the services or resources needed to bring the project to life, so the state legislature worked with Disney to establish the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

This allowed Disney to get the money and resources needed to build Walt Disney World without constantly going through local governments, and turning the pastures and swamps into what we now know as Walt Disney World Resort.

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.

Disney currently has responsibility for providing municipal services like power, water, roads and fire protection – but are freed from dealing with legal red tape or paying taxes for services that benefited the broader public.

 Reedy Creek Improvement District


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