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Florida Gov. DeSantis intensifies fight with Disney | Business and Economic News

DeSantis said the U.S. government would rescind a development agreement Disney put in place to protect its business.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state legislature would introduce a bill to undo a deal the Walt Disney Co. made to circumvent state oversight of its parks, fueling a possible U.S. presidential election. A battle between the candidate and one of the state’s largest employers.

On Monday, DeSantis said the legislature would take steps to undo a development deal Disney struck with outgoing oversight board members that tied the hands of DeSantis appointees.

“They thought they could make some type of development agreement that would nullify everything we’ve done,” DeSantis said. “That can’t fly.”

Florida’s governor began targeting Disney a year ago after the company’s then-CEO Bob Chapek spoke out against a bill that would limit discussion of sex and gender identity in Florida elementary school classrooms, the Parental Educational Rights Act. Called the “Don’t Talk Gay” law.

For more than 50 years, DeSantis and the Florida legislature have worked to eliminate the virtual autonomy the company enjoys over Walt Disney World Resort. Disney employs about 75,000 people in the state.

Ahead of the expected 2024 presidential campaign, DeSantis mentioned his struggle with “woke Disney” in speeches as he toured the United States.

Florida lawmakers passed a bill in February that would give DeSantis effective control of a commission that oversees municipal services and development in the central Florida district, which includes Walt Disney World.

Current Disney CEO Bob Iger called the move retaliatory, “anti-business” and “anti-Florida.”

Before a DeSantis appointee took over, Disney pushed for changes to a special tax-zone agreement that had limited the board’s actions for decades.

Last month, an attorney for the newly created Central Florida Tourism Oversight District described what he called a “shocking” revelation, reached three weeks before DeSantis signed legislation granting the state power over the region. agreement.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” attorney Daniel Langley said on March 29. [development agreement] The stated intent…is to circumvent the district’s authorized actions and tie the hands of this and future committees. “

The agreement consolidates the 10-year comprehensive plan adopted on 15 July 2022 as a blueprint to guide future development. It gives Disney the option to add a fifth major theme park, two smaller parks, 92,900 square meters (1 million square feet) of retail space and about 14,000 hotel rooms.

It also ensures that the future Board of Directors will deliver on its pledge to invest $527 million in capital improvements to support the growth of Walt Disney World over the next decade.

The deal will run for 21 years after the death of the last surviving descendant of Britain’s King Charles III, a legal clause in the contract that extends rights permanently.

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