Florida legislature votes to end Disney's special tax status, DeSantis set to sign measure

Disney will be stripped of its self-governing status in the Sunshine State.

Updated: April 21, 2022 - 3:45pm

The Florida House voted Thursday to strip Walt Disney World of its private government status, a victory for GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis who has battled with the entertainment conglomerate over gender-curriculum issues in public schools.

Disney has opposed a recently passed bill that bans the instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms for grades K-3. 

The move will likely carry enormous tax implications for Disney, which employs roughly 70,000 Floridians across its tremendously popular theme parks in Orlando. The bill passed by a vote of 70-38, a day after the state Senate approved it 23-16.

DeSantis is expected to swiftly sign the bill, approved during a special session for which he called. 

DeSantis' ongoing dispute with the House of Mouse pertains to the company's criticism of the so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill. In March, following a successful pressure campaign from its employees, Disney announced it would suspend political donations in Florida and support organizations working to oppose the new measure.

DeSantis has used the opportunity to highlight the influence of "woke" politics on modern corporate America.

In a fundraising email send on Wednesday, DeSantis, a hard-charge conservative with seeming White House ambitions, wrote: "Disney and other woke corporations won’t get away with peddling their unchecked pressure campaigns any longer. If we want to keep the Democrat machine and their corporate lapdogs accountable, we have to stand together now."

The special tax district that, according to the bill, will come to an end in 2023 has allowed the Walt Disney Co. to govern the land that houses its theme parks.

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