Florida Passes Bills to ‘Punish Disney’ for Opposing DeSantis’ ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law | National News

The Florida House passed two bills Thursday escalating a standoff between GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Walt Disney Co. after the corporate giant criticized a controversial new state law that prohibits classroom instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity for some younger age groups in the state.

DeSantis called a special session of the state legislature after Disney revealed its opposition to the new rule, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law by critics, which has since sparked controversy well beyond Florida’s borders. The legislature this week took up a bill concerning special districts in the state that threatens the company’s autonomy over its property as well as another measure that would strip Disney’s exemption from some of its social media laws.

After the Florida Senate voted to pass the bills Wednesday, they went to the House floor Thursday. Both bills concerning Disney passed 70-38.

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Democratic state lawmakers did not mince words over what they believe to be the bills’ intentions. Sen. Janet Cruz called the moves an attempt to “punish Disney” for taking a stand against the “Don’t Say Gay” law, while Sen. Tina Polsky said it was an example of “revenge governance” and “the most brutal form of cancel culture we’ve ever seen.”

“The Disney Corporation is being attacked for expressing support for its many LGBTQ employees and customers,” Polsky said. “I don’t know what happened to all of you – to the Republican Party in general – with respect to allowing private businesses to run themselves. Isn’t that the definition of capitalism? But when they cross this governor, they will be punished. This is exactly the definition of authoritarianism.”

One of the bills, SB 4C, would eliminate the unique status that allows the company to operate effectively as a municipality, a rule negotiated in the 1960s that has allowed the company to develop the large acreage of swamp that now makes up its theme parks. Under the new rule, which takes effect in July, the special district where the company’s theme park resides, known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, wouldn’t be dismantled for another year.

But the state may not have the last word on the company’s unique status. Under Florida law, in order for the legislature to dissolve an independent special district, the act must be approved by a majority of voters in the district.

Nevertheless, Republicans appear to be attempting to send the company a strong message.

“Disney is a guest in Florida,” Republican Rep. Randy Fine wrote in a tweet following DeSantis’ announcement of a special session to target the two bills. “Today we remind them.”