Why is Disney suing Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis?
The Republican governor has been targeting the corporation since its push-back against his administration’s plan to restrict discussion of sexual orientation.
Disney has accepted the challenge laid out by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday the company said they were targeted by sustained “government retaliation” for its opposition to the administration’s priorities. He has been pushing against the company’s unique rights in the state of Florida which have existed for some 50 years.
“Disney regrets it has come to this,” the company’s parks division said in the lawsuit, filed in federal court.
“But having exhausted efforts to seek a resolution, the company is left with no choice but to file this lawsuit to protect its cast members, guests, and local development partners from a relentless campaign to weaponise government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint unpopular with certain state officials.”
The legal case ramps up the stakes between the company and the governor.
Disney made its opposition to DeSantis’s so-called ‘Don’t say gay’ bill last year very known, which seeks to restrict discussion of sex or sexual identity in Florida’s schools. Other anti LGBTQ+ initiatives have targeted the trans community in the state.
DeSantis’ administration subsequently blocked developments on Disney’s land as well as restructuring long-standing agreements that gave Disney unprecedented power in determing the rules of the 25,000-acre district the company nearly entirely owns.
The scrap between DeSantis and Disney
In the mid-1960s, when Walt Disney was considering locations for his new theme park, the state of Florida offered various tax breaks and incentives to entice him to choose Florida.
In 1965, the state legislature created the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a special governmental district that gave Walt Disney unprecedented control over the development and operation of the property.
Disney also received a special exemption from the state’s corporate income tax. This exemption was granted to any company that was located within an ‘enterprise zone,’ which was a designated area in need of economic development. Disney was able to establish an enterprise zone on their property, which allowed them to avoid paying corporate income tax for many years.
The public feud between DeSantis and Disney is providing the governor the perfect cover to strip back the rights Disney currently have. It is true they are rare and unfair but they have succeeded in bringing huge amounts of revenue to Florida.