Four Florida taxpayers are suing Gov. Ron DeSantis for dissolving Disney World's special district.
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida on Tuesday, claims the taxpayers in surrounding counties will be saddled with paying off $1 billion-plus in bond debt if the state follows through with its plan to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
"It is without question that Defendant Governor DeSantis intended to punish Disney for a 1st Amendment protected ground of free speech," reads the lawsuit. "Defendant's violation of Disney's 1st Amendment rights directly resulted in a violation of Plaintiffs' 14th Amendment rights to due process of law."
Florida in April passed a bill that would terminate the 1967 Reedy Creek Improvement Act, which allows the company to self-govern the land that houses its Orlando-area theme parks, hotels, and resorts. Republicans voted to do so in response to Disney officials' opposition to the state's new education law, which critics say discriminates against the LGBTQ community.
Jake Schumer, a municipal attorney in the Maitland law firm of Shepard, Smith, Kohlmyer & Hand, in a Bloomberg piece, said difficult questions follow the Legislature's decision, specifically that the bill dissolving Reedy Creek "would have problems under contract clauses of the Florida and U.S. Constitutions."
"Stating that the county assumes the debt is simple enough — actually figuring out what that means is a different story," writes Schumer.
"Reedy Creek spans both Orange and Osceola counties, so how will the debt be divided? Would it be by taxable value of property or by the properties themselves? And how would that apply to the utility revenue bonds when there is no easy way to divide which county the utilities rest in?"
Solange Reyner is a writer and editor for Newsmax. She has more than 15 years in the journalism industry reporting and covering news, sports and politics.
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