The Florida state government has officially moved forward on the issues proposed last year by Governor Ron DeSantis regarding special districts in the state, including Disney’s own Reedy Creek Improvement District.
A bill filed today, February 6, 2023, has been introduced to the House and is set to move on to the Senate if it is passed. While the DeSantis administration has been working toward the dissolution of special districts, the bill is not so simple. Here’s what we know so far.
RELATED: What Is The Reedy Creek Improvement District and Why Does It Matter?
The bill includes several notable changes to the current setup of Florida’s special districts, but there are some key takeaways. Perhaps the most obvious, as noted by theme park reporter Scott Gustin, is that the bill does not actually call for the dissolution of Reedy Creek, at least not in the same language the DeSantis administration had been using since the changes were proposed last year.
Rather than dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the bill essentially outlines a new set of rules that will be required to maintain such special districts. According to the bill, Reedy Creek would be renamed “Central Florida Tourism Oversight District,” where it will function under new guidance, including an appointed board, with all members appointed by the Governor and subject to approval by the Senate. New board members must also have been free of relationships or contractual agreements with the theme parks within the last three years.
NEW: "HB 9B – Reedy Creek Improvement District, Orange and Osceola Counties" has been filed. The bill proposes changes including renaming the district to "Central Florida Tourism Oversight District."
I'm still reading through it – but here's the link:https://t.co/IKEHuKvcxB pic.twitter.com/bFSCpqSEGh
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) February 6, 2023
RELATED: Disney First Responders Support State Takeover of Reedy Creek Improvement District
According to the Orlando Sentinel, several taxpayer concerns should be avoided under the bill. When DeSantis began his push for the dissolution of Reedy Creek, Orange, and Osceola County taxpayers shared concern that they would be held responsible for the district’s debt (which totals $1 billion); however, the bill confirms that this would not be the case.
Reedy Creek Improvement District in its current form, predates the opening of the Walt Disney World Resort. The district was established in 1967 with board members subject to election by landowners (in this case, the Walt Disney Company). Disney has effectively self-governed the district for almost 56 years; however, Governor DeSantis began pushing for control of the district following his feud with Disney over the company’s opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” / Parental Rights in Education Bill in 2022.
RELATED: Disney Chairman Avoids Commenting on Reedy Creek District Drama
We at Disney Tips will continue to monitor new information regarding Reedy Creek, and will be back with additional updates as we have them.