DeSantis: Legislature will revoke development agreement passed by former Reedy Creek board

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis said there is legislation coming that will revoke a development agreement passed by the Reedy Creek board before the state took it over.

Last month, it was revealed that Disney quietly stripped the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight District of its development power before handing over control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District.


“That’s not going to work,” DeSantis said. “That’s not going to fly.”

DeSantis said in a news conference in Lake Buena Vista on Monday that a bill is being introduced in the legislature to revoke the agreement. He said lawmakers will vote on the bill next week.

Read: Reedy Creek board members attempt to seize control back from Disney as power struggle intensifies

He said once that happens, Disney will have to “live under the same laws as everybody else.”

DeSantis that includes the state board being able to decide what to do with undeveloped land within the former Reedy Creek Improvement District, whether that be a state park or a state prison.

Read: Power play: Disney handicapped new Reedy Creek board before handing over control

While toll roads and hotel taxes appear to be off the table, the state is now interested in banning mask mandates in the district, reassessing all property values, and selling off Reedy Creek’s utilities in an effort to pay down the district’s debt and abolish it in the future.

If the bill is passed, Florida lawmakers will also give the Department of Agriculture the ability to inspect Disney’s Monorail and rides but will not expand that power to other big parks like SeaWorld and Universal.

But Agriculture Commissioner said Wilton Simpson said, “Where a person is injured should not determine how the state responds, everyone should have to play by the same rules.”

Read: Reedy Creek board poised to claim ‘superior authority’ over land planning around Disney

While DeSantis said he believes the moves he is making are all legal, attorneys aren’t as sure.

“It’s not really about targeting specific contracts. But they can certainly try, it’ll just be difficult to do it without violating the Disney’s rights by targeting them under the Constitution,” attorney Jacob Schumer said.

Schumer said Florida law allows the government to make changes that affect large groups of companies, but the closer DeSantis and his allies get to targeting only Disney, the worse off they’ll be in court as they spend taxpayer money.

Read: DeSantis calls for investigation into former Reedy Creek board

“There’s an argument to be had by both sides. But it’ll be hard to tell until we actually see the law,” Schumer said.

Stay tuned to Channel 9 Eyewitness News for updates.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.

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