Orange County Legislative Delegation approves bill to revert Reedy Creek to original structure

by | Nov 29, 2023



  • The Orange County Legislative Delegation unanimously approved a bill to revert the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District back to its original structure as the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
  • This bill, proposed by Rep. Linda Stewart, seeks to revert the district’s structure to that to February 26, 2023, including its governance and organizational structure.
  • The measure also entails the dissolution of the current Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors including provisions such as limiting the current board’s ability to manage the district’s assets, except for ordinary business activities.

 

UPDATE: Following a Republican walkout, a quorum was deemed to be not present, invalidating the vote. A second vote must take place in a future meeting.

 

The Orange County Legislative Delegation unanimously approved a local bill on Wednesday that would revert the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District back to the Reedy Creek Improvement District and its original organizational structure.

The proposal, brought forth by Rep. Linda Stewart, would repeal state law that initially established the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. In its place, her measure seeks to revive, reenact, and readopt an earlier statute that established Reedy Creek as a special district, alongside a 1966 court decree. If adopted, the bill would effectively reinstate the Reedy Creek Improvement District as it was structured before February 26, 2023.

The bill would additionally result in the termination of the current Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors. Current members of the board would serve until their successors are appointed and qualified and during the transition, restrictions would be placed on the board members, officers, and employees, limiting their ability to sell, transfer, or otherwise manage the district’s assets, except for ordinary business activities.

“Nine months under this new board has created … major issues,” said Stewart on Wednesday. “There is no transparency, the morale of the employees is horrible, and so many other politically motivated changes have occurred that affect the Disney business plan.”

Following the bill’s passage, delegation members have 30 days before the bill can be filed in the Florida House of Representatives. Though the measure passed the county delegation without dissent, it faces a difficult path to adoption in the GOP-supermajority state legislature and a governor who championed the reformation of the district.

Earlier this year, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation that stripped Disney’s control of Reedy Creek, officially renaming it as the “Central Florida Tourism Oversight District,” and granting the governor the power to appoint its Board of Supervisors.

While DeSantis condemned Disney as a “woke” corporation after it publicly opposed a law that restricts instruction about gender identity and sexual orientation in schools., state legislators worked to revamp Reedy Creek, responsible for overseeing government services at Disney World.

The lawmakers chose to replace the five Disney-elected members with governor-appointed ones, disrupting a system that allowed Disney to govern its Florida theme parks and resorts autonomously for more than 50 years.

Florida officials, and particularly the governor, have repeatedly stated that the changes “level the playing field” so that Disney is now “subject to the same laws and regulations as all other companies in Florida.”

“Until Governor DeSantis acted, the Walt Disney Company maintained sole control over the District. This power amounted to an unaccountable corporate kingdom,” the Office of the Governor told The Capitolist upon the district’s reformation.

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

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