Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is not ready to accept defeat. On Monday, the controversial conservative unveiled his most recent attempt at retaliation against Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Inc (NYSE: DIS) for opposing the parental rights bill, or the “don’t say gay” law.
While talking about how the state legislature would attempt to regain control of Florida’s largest private employer, the governor threatened to build a state prison adjacent to the entertainment giant’s central Florida theme parks.
In February, DeSantis attempted to take control over the special district covering Disney’s Florida theme parks when he signed a law that strips oversight of the district from Disney-controlled Reedy Creek Improvement District.
But DeSantis found himself humiliated when, in a surprise move that was discovered a little too late, Reedy Creek passed a vote on a Declaration of Restrictive Covenants in favor of Disney on February 8 — a day before the Florida House voted to put the governor in charge. The declaration effectively transfers Reedy Creek’s authority to Disney, and gives the entertainment giant the sole right to approve any amendments to the agreement.
The hard-right governor has since denounced the declaration as a “sham” and said it was legally unsound. On Monday, he announced proposed measures that would effectively revoke the last-minute declaration and turn over control of the special district to his handpicked oversight board.
The proposed legislation will declare development agreements to be no longer lawful in Florida, it also includes measures to increase Disney’s tax burden, move the regulatory oversight of the amusement rides and the monorail to the state, and give the DeSantis-controlled board authority over the development of Disney’s 27,000 acres (10,926 hectares) of land in the special district.
“Maybe create a state park, maybe try to do more amusement parks,’’ he mused, inadvertently revealing that he still underestimates Disney (or overestimates his reach). “Someone even said like, maybe you need another state prison. Who knows? I mean, I just think that the possibilities are endless.”
Observers say that Disney has most likely already prepared for this scenario, especially after the last-minute move it pulled previously. It has, at the very least, access to a vast amount of resources to protect itself and its property.
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