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Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District to get new name, Governor appointed board

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The Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) will not get dissolved under a bill filed during a special session in the Florida State Legislature on Monday.

The special session that kicked off Monday was called late last week for “several issues that warrant our attention in advance of the 2023 Regular Session,” Florida Senate President Kathlene Passidomo wrote in a memo announcing the special session. That included tackling the RCID, a special tax district that currently affords Disney the ability to act with the same authority as a county government for an area that includes its Florida parks. 

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The bill seeks to make it so that the selection of the district’s five-member board of supervisors falls with the governor. Those governor-appointed members would also need Florida state Senate approval, according to the legislation’s currently-available text

It proposes limiting the number of back-to-back terms a member can serve to three and doing four-year terms, “except that for the initial appointments made after the effective date of this act, two members shall be appointed to serve a term of 2 years,” according to the text. The RCID website currently says its board of supervisors have staggered four-year terms. A current member of the board, Donald R. Greer, was first elected in 1975.

The members initially tapped by the governor to serve on the board “must replace the board member who has been serving on the board for the greatest amount of time to date,” the legislation proposes.

Individuals would not be able to serve on the board if they have been an “officer, owner, director, employee, agent, contractor, or subcontractor of, or has had a contractual relationship with a business entity that owns or operates a theme park or entertainment complex as defined in S. 509.013(9), Florida Statutes, or a parent company, subsidiary or sibling organization under common ownership or control with a business entity that owns or operates a theme park or entertainment complex” in the past three years, according to the bill. 

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With the bill filed Monday, RCID would also see a name change. The legislation proposes renaming it the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and provides a two-year span to do so.

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DISTHE WALT DISNEY CO.109.87-0.84-0.76%

“It is the intent of the Legislature to preserve the authority necessary to generate revenue and pay outstanding indebtedness,” the proposed bill also states.

“We are monitoring the progression of the draft legislation, which is complex given the long history of the Reedy Creek Improvement District,” Jeff Vahle, president of the Walt Disney World Resort, said in a statement to FOX Business. “Disney works under a number of different models and jurisdictions around the world, and regardless of the outcome, we remain committed to providing the highest quality experience for millions of guests who visit each year.”

“It is the intent of the Legislature to preserve the authority necessary to generate revenue and pay outstanding indebtedness,” the proposed bill also states.

“We are monitoring the progression of the draft legislation, which is complex given the long history of the Reedy Creek Improvement District,” Jeff Vahle, president of the Walt Disney World Resort, said in a statement to FOX Business. “Disney works under a number of different models and jurisdictions around the world, and regardless of the outcome, we remain committed to providing the highest quality experience for millions of guests who visit each year.”

The legislation proposed Monday, which may be subject to change, is currently in the State Affairs Committee in the Florida House of Representatives.

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The Florida State Legislature had previously passed – and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis had signed – legislation back in April 2022 to put an end to the RCID. 

Florida and a then Bob Chapek-run Disney came into conflict early last year in connection to the company’s opposition to DeSantis’ signing of a law that prevents the teaching of sexual orientation in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms.

Some of the other expected bills in the special session deal with hurricane relief funding, illegal immigration and election-related crime. 

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