Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bill ending Disney’s private government over criticism of Don’t Say Gay.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation Friday dissolving Disney’s private government after the company criticized the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law.

The move could have huge tax implications for Disney, whose theme parks have made Orlando one of the world’s top tourist destinations, and serves to further sore the relationship between the Republican-led government and a key political player in the state.

For DeSantis, the attack on Disney is his latest salvo in a culture war being fought over politics involving race, gender and the coronavirus, battles that have made him one of the country’s most popular GOP politicians and a likely 2024 presidential nominee .

The dispute with Disney began with the company’s criticism of a new law that bans teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade and “not age or developmentally appropriate” classes.

In March, Disney said it would suspend political donations in the state, adding that it would in turn support organizations opposed to the new law. DeSantis and his fellow Republicans then lashed out at Disney, defending the law as reasonable.

“Disney and other woke companies will no longer get away with selling their uncontrolled print campaigns,” DeSantis wrote in a fundraising pitch Wednesday. “If we are to hold the Democrat machinery and their corporate lapdogs accountable, we must stand together now.”

The law, passed by lawmakers Thursday, would eliminate the Reedy Creek Improvement District, as the Disney government is known, as well as a handful of other similar districts by June 2023.

The measure allows the districts to be restored and leaves a way to renegotiate their future.

Democrats have slammed the proposal as a clear retaliation against the company and warned that local homeowners could face hefty tax bills if they have to assume bond debt from Disney — though such details are far from clear.

Disney is one of Florida’s largest private employers and had more than 60,000 employees in the state last year. It’s not immediately clear how the company or local governments around its properties would be affected if the district were dissolved.

The creation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, and the control it gave Disney over 27,000 acres in Florida, was a critical element in the company’s plans to build near Orlando in the 1960s. Company officials said they need autonomy to plan a futuristic city along with the theme park. However, the city never came into existence; Instead, it turned into the Epcot theme park.

Disney is the parent company of this news channel.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bill ending Disney’s private government over criticism of Don’t Say Gay.

Dais Johnston

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