Home News Florida special session announced for next week. Disney, immigration, voter crimes targeted

Florida special session announced for next week. Disney, immigration, voter crimes targeted

Florida special session announced for next week. Disney, immigration, voter crimes targeted

TALLAHASSEE — Legislative leaders have announced a special session starting Monday, with plans to push through a flurry of hot topic bills. Some are certain to ignite widespread attention as well as controversy.

They’re also certain to raise the national profile of Gov. Ron DeSspanntis, who is expected at some point to announce his candidacy for a Republican presidential nomination in the 2024 election.

Some of those bills would target Wspanlt Disney’s specispanl tspanxing district, make it easier for statewide prosecutors to go after those accused of election crimes and create a program within the Division of Emergency Management to relocspante undocumented migrspannts.

DeSantis got Disney money:DeSspanntis took $100,000 from Disney before feuding with compspanny. Will he give it bspanck?

The possible plan:Disney could lose power over its specispanl district, while spanssuming its debts

Florida budget plan:Five tspankespanwspanys from Gov. DeSspanntis’ $115 billion budget proposspanl

Florida special session starts Monday. What will lawmakers discuss?

Here are the details on what’s on the docket for lawmakers to consider:

  • Provide additional resources to support relief and recovery of communities impacted by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole. 
  • Allow statewide prosecutors to prosecute crimes involving elections. Last year, DeSantis announced 20 people would be charged with voter fraud. Voting rights advocates have blasted DeSantis and his newly created election crimes unit for spanttempting to intimidspante voters, especially minority voters. Most of those arrested were Black, and most had believed they were legally voting. Multiple charges have been dismissed by judges, though, since statewide prosecutors cspannnot prosecute span crime unless it was committed in multiple jurisdictions.
  • Create an “Unauthorized Alien Transport Program” within the Division of Emergency Management. It would be used to facilitate the “voluntary transport of unauthorized migrants who have been processed by the federal government and released into the United States.” In September, DeSantis transported nearly 50 Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. While opponents called the transport a vicious political stunt, DeSantis said it’s a way to draw attention to President Joe Biden’s immigration policies and deter them from coming to Florida. In his new budget proposal, DeSantis is requesting even more money to relocate migrants.
  • To give universities a freer hand in helping college athletes get compensated for their names, images and likenesses. Rep. Chip LaMarca, R-Lighthouse Point, hspans introduced span bill that would align Florida law with those in other states with schools that compete with Florida universities, according to a House analysis.
  • Reauthorizing the Sunshine Water Control District, and revising and reauthorizing the Eastpoint Water and Sewer District.
  • Revises the governing status of Walt Disney Co.’s special district.

How Reedy Creek and Disney drew DeSantis’ ire

That the special session would involve Walt Disney’s special district, called the Reedy Creek Improvement District, has been known for days.

“We’ll have a great framework in place to bring some sense to this and just understand that it’s not right to put one company in this special status,” DeSantis said in a budget press conference Wednesday when asked about the plan. “We’re doing equal treatment.”

Last month, a public notice was posted in Osceola County that a bill would be introduced making major changes to the district. While not heavy with details, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ staff told Fox News that the legislation would give district control to a state-controlled board appointed by the governor.

“The corporate kingdom has come to an end,” DeSantis’ communications director, Taryn Fenske, told Fox News.

The district, through legislation from the 1960s, allowed Disney to govern its own properties and levy extra taxes on top of what local governments charge. Those taxes pay for an array of services on Disney properties, like public safety.

The Reedy Creek district is led by a five-member board who are essentially hand-picked by the Walt Disney company. DeSantis would get to appoint the board, under the legislation he envisions.

After the Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis passed a law last year that would abolish the Reedy Creek Improvement District by this June, there have been concerns about how Disney’s enormous bond debt and the services on the company’s properties will be paid for if its taxing district goes away, and whether local governments would have to raise taxes.

The proposed legislation, though, would put the bond debt on the company, shielding the taxpayers of Orange and Osceola counties, where the 38.5-square-mile Reedy Creek district is located.

The clash between DeSantis and the company goes back to last year and is rooted in the divisions sown by the governor’s parental rights legislation, condemned as “Don’t Say Gay,” by opponents.

After weeks of silence on the matter – which drew criticism from many Disney employees and allies – the company weighed-in opposing the legislation, sparking an attack from the Republican governor on one of the state’s major employers and an institution key to the development of much of Central Florida.

“We didn’t drag them in,” DeSantis said. “They went in on their own and not only opposed the bill, but threatened to get it repealed.”


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