TALLAHASSEE (News Service of Florida)
A spokeswoman for Gov. Ron DeSantis called “fake news” on reports that Republican lawmakers are working on legislation to scale back a law rushed through earlier this year stripping Walt Disney of its unique self-governing power in Central Florida.
“Fake news. @GovRonDeSantis doesn’t make ‘u-turns,’” DeSantis’ spokeswoman Taryn Fenske tweeted on Friday.
Fenske’s post came in response to a tweet by former state Rep. Anthony Sabatini calling it “sad to see weak-kneed GOP politicians get overpowered on this.”
During a special session initially called to pass a redistricting plan, DeSantis directed lawmakers to add two punitive Disney-related measures after the entertainment company opposed a controversial new law, dubbed by opponents as the “don’t say gay” bill, that restricts education about gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools.
Lawmakers approved a plan to eliminate the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which was created in 1967 and encompasses 38.5 miles in Osceola and Orange counties, including the “the most magical place on earth.”
The district has authority over such issues as land use and traditional functions of government including fire protection and wastewater services. The plan, signed by DeSantis in April, would dissolve the Reedy Creek district and five other districts across the state on June 1, 2023, though it would allow the Legislature to re-establish the districts before then.
Financial Times and Reuters on Friday reported that changes in Disney leadership prompted Republican lawmakers in Florida to consider modifying the law.
Fenske didn’t immediately respond when asked if the governor would veto any changes to the law.
Her tweet echoed comments DeSantis made in an appearance on FOX News Tuesday.
According to DeSantis, Disney “brought this upon themselves. All we did was stand up for what was right.”
“And yes, they’re a big, powerful company, but you know what? We stand up for our folks, and I don’t care what a Burbank-based California company says about our laws.”
DeSantis’ remarks came hours after Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger reportedly told employees he was “sorry to see us dragged into that battle.”