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DeSantis signs bill allowing new board to void previous deals with Disney

Mickey Mouse moves down Main Street near Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World Resort on Sept. 30, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
1 of 2 | Mickey Mouse moves down Main Street near Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World Resort on Sept. 30, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

May 6 (UPI) -- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a bill into law allowing his personally chosen board overseeing the Walt Disney Company's operations in the state to void agreements approved by the previous board.

The governor signed SB 1604 on Friday in a move that continues the feud between the likely Republican presidential candidate and the entertainment giant, whom he has characterized as a force for "woke" liberal ideology.

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"Self-government is over," DeSantis said during a post-Legislative session news conference in Tallahassee.

The GOP-dominated state Senate approved the measure Thursday in a largely party-line vote. It effectively voids the development agreements Disney struck with the board formerly called the Reedy Creek Improvement District shortly before DeSantis chose a new board of supervisors -- the Central Florida Tourism Development District -- to oversee the company's Orlando parks.

The bill doesn't specifically mention Reedy Creek Improvement District or Disney, instead generally allowing newly created independent districts to ignore decisions made by previous boards for up to three months before the new body was created.

But its sponsor, Republican state Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, acknowledged Disney is the bill's target, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

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Friday's bill signing is part of a string of tit-for-tat actions involving central Florida's major theme park.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts sued DeSantis last month, alleging political retaliation against the entertainment giant after it publicly disagreed with Florida's so-called "don't say gay" legislation.

The Central Florida Tourism Development District countersued on Monday.

The legal actions have come after DeSantis signed a bill in February removing Disney World's power to govern itself via the Reedy Creek district, which was first established in 1967, and handing the responsibility to the newly created Central Florida Tourism Development District, whose members are hand-picked by the governor.

Disney is one of Florida's largest taxpayers, with more than $1.1 billion paid in state taxes last year. It employs 75,000 people.

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