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Legislature votes to repeal Disney World's self-governing Reedy Creek district in Central Florida

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The Florida Legislature Thursday passed a bill that strips Walt Disney World of its self-governing independent district in Central Florida.

Earlier this week Gov. Ron DeSantis added the issue to a special session on redistricting after the company came out against the state's so-called "Don't Say Gay" law.

Brevard County State Rep. Randy Fine sponsored the House version of the bill repealing the Reedy Creek Improvement District and five other independent special districts as of June 2023.

The Republican lawmaker says Disney "kicked the hornet's nest" when it opposed a law banning talk of gender identity and sexual orientation through third grade and limiting instruction to what's deemed "appropriate" after that. GOP leaders disagree with calling it “Don’t Say Gay.”.

"When Disney announced that they were going to spend their time trying to repeal a law that doesn't exist in Florida and attempted to mislead and disrespect the voters of our state, I think that calls into question whether they should have special privileges," Fine said.

The 25,000-acre district was created by the Legislature in 1967 and runs everything from fire protection and utilities to roads on Disney property.

Its assets and its debts would fall to Orange and Osceola counties.

The House vote -- 70-38 -- came without debate amid chants of protest from Black lawmakers against an redistricing bill passed moments earlier. That bill is expected to boost Republican seats in Congress and reduce minority representation.

Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.