Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled chamber backed the measure in a 23-16 vote.
It now requires a vote in the state House before it can go to the desk of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who called on the Legislature to support the bill during the special session this week.
The legislation would dismantle Disney’s special district on June 1, 2023. The special status, which was granted by a state law in 1967, allows Disney to self-govern by collecting taxes and providing emergency services.
Disney controls about 25,000 acres in the Orlando area, and the district allows the company to build new structures and pay impact fees for such construction without the approval of a local planning commission.
The effort to eliminate Disney’s district, known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, comes after DeSantis began targeting the corporation over its leaders’ criticism of legislation he recently signed that would prevent classroom discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through the third grade.
DeSantis has hinted in the last few weeks that he wants to do away with Disney’s protections, saying he doesn’t “support special privileges in law just because a company is powerful.”
Separately, the Senate also voted 24-15 on Wednesday to pass a measure that would remove Disney’s exemption in a 2021 law about big tech censorship.
CNBC went on to report that the proposal was first introduced on Tuesday by Republican state Sen. Jennifer Bradley, but opponents claim it’s really driven by DeSantis. Widely seen as a contender for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, DeSantis is locked in a bitter and public feud with the entertainment giant over the company’s denouncement of Florida’s HB 1557 law last month.
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HB 1557, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, limits early education teachings on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Until recently, there had been no major public discussion about dissolving Disney’s long-established special district, which it’s occupied for 55 years, leading opposing senators and other critics of the bill to question its timing and the speed at which it’s being pushed through.
State Rep. Randy Fine told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Thursday that the bill isn’t retaliatory, but said “when Disney kicked the hornet’s nest, we looked at special districts.”