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Ron DeSantis takes aim at Disney, vows to void Florida theme park development agreement

Published 04/08/2023, 08:46 AM
Updated 04/08/2023, 05:25 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during his 2022 U.S. midterm elections night party in Tampa, Florida, U.S., November 8, 2022. REUTERS/Marco Bello/File Photo

(Reuters) - Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ramped up his fight against Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) Co, seeking to void an agreement that Disney passed to limit the power of a board appointed by DeSantis to oversee its Florida theme park property.

On Thursday in remarks made at Hillsdale College in Michigan, DeSantis said the legislature would void changes Disney made shortly before it lost control of the board.

"They are not superior to the people of Florida. And so come hell or high water, we're going to make sure that policy of Florida carries the day," the Florida governor said.

"We're going to look at things like taxes on hotels, we're going to look at things like tolls on the roads, we're going to look at things like developing some of the property that the district owns," added DeSantis, widely considered a 2024 presidential candidate.

Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment on DeSantis' remarks. However, earlier in the week, Chief Executive Bob Iger fired back at DeSantis, saying his apparent retaliation against Disney for taking a position on legislation was "anti-business." Disney opposed Florida's Parental Rights in Education Act - referred to by opponents as the "Don't Say Gay" bill - that restricts classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Florida lawmakers passed a bill in February giving DeSantis effective control over a board that oversees municipal services and development in a special district that encompasses Walt Disney World resort.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Walt Disney World photographer holds a Pride rainbow-coloured Mickey Mouse cutout before the

However, before the takeover by DeSantis's appointees, Disney pushed through changes to the special tax district agreement that limit the board's action for decades.

"What Disney has tried to do is they have tried to say that they should be able to operate outside the context of our constitutional system in Florida," DeSantis said on Thursday.

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