Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Friday that would strip the Walt Disney Company of self-government authority at its Orlando-area parks. The loss of benefits came in response to the entertainment giant’s opposition to a new law that limits addressing LGBT agenda issues in schools.
The governor said Disney would pay more taxes as a result of the law, but did not elaborate. The law will eliminate the special condition that allows the company to operate the Walt Disney World Resort as its own city, with four theme parks and two water parks.
Disney’s special status “was really an aberration,” DeSantis told a news conference when he signed the bill. “No individual or company in Florida is treated this way.” Disney did not immediately comment on the project’s signing.
While the financial impact on the company and the state is uncertain, the move could alter the way Disney operates its sprawling central Florida empire and worsen the close relationship it has had with the state for more than 50 years.
DeSantis is a potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate who has courted conservative voters on issues such as immigration, abortion and LGBT rights.
With his latest move against Disney, DeSantis is trying to polish his conservative credentials, showing he’s willing to take on what he described as a California-based “activist” company that doesn’t share Florida’s values.
Disney initially did not publicly oppose legislation regarding the LGBT community last month, which sparked criticism. The company later condemned the law and said it would suspend political donations in Florida until a review.
The law, dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by critics, prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity for children in kindergarten through third grade. DeSantis supported the move, saying it would give parents more control over their children’s education.
Opponents call it a veiled attempt to marginalize gay and transgender students or children of parents who are members of the LGBT community.
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