Florida lawmakers strip away Disney’s special status

By Andrew Powell | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) — The Florida Legislature concluded its special session on Friday, passing bills regarding Disney’s autonomy, transport of foreign nationals and election fraud.

Florida House Speaker Paul Renner said at a news conference before the House’s final meeting that the special session was successful and that lawmakers addressed “the complete abdication by the federal government in defending our border and stopping the flow of illegal immigrants so that the state can take action to protect our citizens.”

“In Florida, we don’t wait around to fix problems and we’ve fixed a number of those this week.” Renner said.

Renner also mentioned the situation with the Walt Disney Company in Florida and said the Legislature will be, “making sure the Reedy Creek District, formed many many years ago, is also competing on a level playing field with its competitors in the area.”

Rep. Juan Alfonso Fernandez-Barquin, R-Miami, is the sponsor of House Bill 3, which addresses election fraud. The bill would create an Office of Statewide Prosecution to investigate and prosecute election-related specified crimes.

“Our state prides itself in free, fair and secure elections and also prides itself on law and order,” Fernandez-Barquin said.

Rep. John Snyder, R-Palm City, sponsored HB 5B, which created the Transportation of Inspected Unauthorized Aliens program to counter the influx of illegal migrants. He described the situation in South Florida and the rest of the state.

“Throughout South Florida and really the entire state, we are facing an unprecedented surge of unauthorized aliens who are coming into our state.” Snyder said.

Snyder added that if the federal government had stepped in and put a stop to the surge of illegal migrants, Florida would not be passing this legislation.

“I wish we were not here to have to address this specific issue, but unfortunately what we’ve seen out of Washington D.C. — under President Joe Biden — is a complete failure to uphold the rule of law and to enforce our borders.”

Snyder also stated that the bill will move illegal aliens to states who have made themselves sanctuary enclaves for them.

“So, what we did this week was continue to give the governor the needed flexibility to work with the Department of Emergency Management to effectively carry out this program and make sure unauthorized aliens have the opportunity to go to a sanctuary city of their choosing, so they can live off their taxpayers, instead of the hard-working Floridians,” Snyder said.

Rep. Fred Hawkins, R-St. Cloud, was the sponsor of HB 9B, which addressed the status of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District. This self-governing area that encompasses Walt Disney World’s property in central Florida was an incentive passed by lawmakers in 1967 to bring the company to the state.

“This legislation was not rushed at all, like has been reported, it was thought out, that’s why the bill is so large,” Hawkins said. “This bill takes an old district and modernizes it and updated it.”

Hawkins added that Disney will lose its long-held competitive edge over other companies thanks to the new legislation.

“It took rights away that no corporation should ever have and being able to construct and have an unfair competitive advantage over their competitors.”

Hawkins said there will now be more oversight and lower costs for Florida taxpayers.

“It also puts a government structure in that’s fair and has checks and balances and allows the citizens to have comfort that any debt that district may have will not be a burden to them.”