In retribution for its opposition to a new law that limits the teaching of LGBTQ topics in schools, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill stripping Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) of self-governing authority at its Orlando-area parks on Friday.
The law was approved by the Republican-controlled legislature on Thursday, and it will end the company’s special governing jurisdiction, which permits it to manage Walt Disney World Resort as its own city. It operates four theme parks, two water parks, and 175 miles of highway on the 25,000-acre property.
At a press conference when he signed the bill into law, DeSantis claimed Disney’s special status “was really an aberration.” “No one in Florida, no corporation, is treated this way.”
The bill’s signing was met with silence from Disney.
While the adjustment’s financial impact on the corporation and the state is unknown, it could transform how Disney runs its huge Central Florida enterprise and sour the company’s 50-year relationship with the state.
Disney would pay extra taxes as a result of the measure, according to the governor, who did not clarify.
DeSantis is a possible GOP presidential candidate in 2024 who has courted conservative supporters on topics including immigration, abortion, and LGBTQ rights.
DeSantis is aiming to burnish his conservative credentials by demonstrating his willingness to stand up to a “woke” company situated in California that does not share Florida’s values with his latest move against Disney.
Last month, when Disney did not openly oppose the LGBTQ legislation, it drew criticism from the LGBTQ community as well as some Disney workers. Later, the firm slammed the law and announced that it will halt political donations in Florida awaiting an investigation.
Critics have dubbed the measure the “don’t mention gay” bill because it prohibits teachers from teaching students in kindergarten through third grade about their sexual orientation or gender identity. DeSantis voted in favor of the bill, claiming it would offer parents more control over their children’s education.