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Florida Legislators Expected to Tackle Disney in Special Session Next Week

Bryan Griffin, a spokeswoman for Gov. Ron DeSantis, stated in a statement Tuesday that “the governor’s office anticipates a special session next week on Reedy Creek, among other matters. Visitors to Cinderella Castle are entertained by performers dressed as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, and Daisy Duck.

During a special session last year, legislators acted quickly to dissolve Reedy Creek after Disney officials spoke out against the “Don’t Say Gay” rule. The Republican-controlled Florida Legislature is set to call a special session next week to address the Reedy Creek Improvement District near Disney World.

Bryan Griffin, a spokesman for Gov. Ron DeSantis, confirmed in a statement Tuesday that “the governor’s office anticipates a special session next week on Reedy Creek, and other items,” indicating that the governor’s office may be under increasing pressure to get something done before the regular session begins in early March. Under Florida law, either the governor or legislative leaders can convene a special session on their own.

Griffin did not provide any additional information on what the “other goods” will be. The House and Senate leaders made no quick comments about the special session. Reedy Creek Improvement District is the name of a special district established by Florida legislators more than 50 years ago and mostly administered by the entertainment giant over the past five decades.

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During a special session last year, legislators acted rapidly to dissolve Reedy Creek when Disney officials spoke out against a new rule restricting how sexual orientation and gender identity are addressed in public schools. Opponents of the bill have dubbed it “Don’t Say, Gay,” because it prevents instructors from delivering classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for pupils in kindergarten through third grade.

LGBTQ+ advocates warn the law might lead to greater bullying or even death among youngsters. While DeSantis was not the main force behind the contentious bill at the outset, he became a proponent of it and was important in pushing through the plan to deprive Disney of its special status in the aftermath.

DeSantis, who is now considered a possible presidential candidate, highlighted his struggle with Disney on the campaign trail last year to demonstrate his opposition to “woke” companies. However, while lawmakers enacted a bill aimed at Reedy Creek, they did not address lingering concerns about district indebtedness and whether they will be passed on to local taxpayers.

A Disney spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. DeSantis has promised that a mechanism will be established to ensure that taxpayers are not held liable for the bills. In early January, the administration said that it had developed a proposal that would give the state authority over the special district while also holding Disney accountable for any previous obligations.

“The corporate kingdom has come to an end,” Taryn Fenske, a DeSantis spokesperson, stated earlier this month. “We have not received anything yet!” said state Sen. Linda Stewart, an Orlando Democrat whose central Florida district includes Disney World. I’ve just heard rumors for the last few weeks.”

DeSantis has increasingly relied on special sessions to address high-priority legislation, a move that ensures more sustained media coverage — including from friendly conservative outlets — than the somewhat hectic 60-day regular session, in which multiple controversial issues may be considered at the same time.

In the upcoming legislative session in Florida, state legislators are anticipated to take up a substantial expansion of scholarships, a bill to repeal concealed weapons permits, and maybe additional abortion restrictions.

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