Florida lawmakers to convene in special session next week; Disney, illegal immigration, NIL policy targeted

by | Feb 3, 2023

  • Florida State lawmakers have been called for a special session starting February 6th, targeting issues that “warrant attention” ahead of the Regular Session.
  • One of the main items on the legislative agenda is the abolition of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID).
  • Another significant issue on the agenda is illegal immigration, with a bill to create the Unauthorized Alien Transport Program.
  • The special session will also include a revision to Name, Image, and Likeness policy, provide additional resources for hurricane recovery, and clarify the jurisdiction of the Office of Statewide Prosecution.

State lawmakers have been called to Tallahassee for a special session beginning February 6th. The session will begin at noon on Monday, spanning multiple days, though a date of stoppage has yet to be announced.

According to the memo put forth by Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and House Speaker Paul Renner, the special session will target issues that “warrant attention” ahead of the upcoming Regular Session.

The abolition of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) appears to be the ‘big-ticket’ item on the legislative agenda, which also features motions to establish a program to transport illegal immigrants and refine collegiate Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) policy.

Gov. Ron DeSantis set his sights on Reedy Creek after Disney publicly opposed a law that restricts instruction about gender identity and sexual orientation in schools.

As a result, House lawmakers swiftly passed a bill (SB 4-C) to officially eliminate the special district that allows Disney to self-govern its Orlando-area theme park but gave until June of this year for lawmakers to make needed changes.

Reedy Creek was created by the Florida state legislature in 1967 to provide local government services for the Walt Disney World resort. The RCID has its own government, with powers similar to those of a county government, and is responsible for providing services such as fire protection, building inspection, and waste management within the district.

The memo details that during next week’s session, the Senate will receive a local bill from the House to revise the governing autonomy that RCID wields. Lawmakers will also work to “protect local taxpayers from the District’s debts.”

Illegal immigration will also be at the forefront of the legislative agenda, with Sen. Blaise Ingoglia sponsoring a bill to create the Unauthorized Alien Transport Program. According to the memo, the program would exist and operate under the Department of Emergency Management to facilitate the transportation of migrants who have been processed by the federal government and released into the country.

DeSantis found himself in national headlines last year after his administration transported flew about 50 migrants from Texas to Massachusetts. In his 2023-24 state budget proposal released this week, the governor requested $12 million for migrant transportation.

In an effort to speed up hurricane recovery efforts, lawmakers will also file a bill to provide additional resources to communities still recovering from hurricanes Ian and Nicole. The bill will include more funding allocations for the Emergency Response and Preparedness Fund, as well as divert more money for a Local Government Bridge Loan Program.

Lawmakers will also revisit preexisting NIL policy with a focus on refining the state’s current law, which Passidomo claims puts Florida at a disadvantage in the world of college sports.

“While college sports are not high on my list of priorities when compared to the many other serious issues we must address each session, sporting events do contribute greatly to our local economies,” she wrote.

A bill filed by Sen. Jonathan Martin will seek to clarify the Office of Statewide Prosecution’s jurisdiction to prosecute crimes involving elections for a state or federal office.

This is a developing story. 

1 Comment

  1. Silvio Danta

    The Florida legislature needs to address all special local government districts, not just Reedy Creek. If they make legislation to address just one, it’s clear this is just a political vendetta.

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