DeSantis vs. Disney: Florida governor declares 'there's a new sheriff in town'

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says Disney would 'pay their fair share of taxes'

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took another shot at Disney on Wednesday morning, telling its leadership that there's a "new sheriff in town." 

Speaking to reporters in Ocala, he said that the company would no longer have self-government. 

"Disney is gonna pay its fair share of taxes and Disney is gonna honor the debt. ... This is obviously now going to be controlled by the state of Florida," the governor said. "So, there's a new sheriff in town." 

These remarks come as a new bill released this week put the entertainment giant's district, the Reedy Creek Improvement District, under the control of DeSantis and legislative leaders.


The bill prohibits anyone who worked or had a contract with a theme park or entertainment complex in the past three years, or their relatives, from serving on the revamped district’s board of supervisors.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition's annual meeting at the Venetian in Las Vegas on Nov. 19, 2022. (Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images / Getty Images)

In addition, under the bill, DeSantis appoints the five-member board of supervisors to the renamed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District instead of Disney. Restrictions would be placed on the district's autonomy, and it would be unable to adopt any codes that conflict with state regulations. 

Critics of the move have said the bill's board limitations would eliminate those with expertise in the field. 

Rep. Anna Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat who said Monday that the Disney bill was a "power grab," tweeted Wednesday that she had filed five amendments to it to ensure that there would be local representation and to "try to curb conservative grifting." 

A sign for the Reedy Creek Improvement District

The Reedy Creek Improvement District Administration Building in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, is seen on May 2, 2022. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images / Getty Images)


"I filed five amendments to the Reedy Creek Bill (aka, power grab by Governor Ron DeSantis) including one to ensure that there is LOCAL Representation in the new board (vs all appointed by the Governor) and one that renames the district to 'Florida's Attempt to Silence Critical and Independent Speech and Thought' and others that try to curb conservative grifting along with one to close a corporate tax loophole," she said.

Lawmakers are meeting for a special session to complete the state takeover of the district. The House's State Affairs Committee is slated to take up the bill at 2 p.m. ET. The Legislature passed a bill to dissolve the Disney government by June.

A person watches fireworks at Disney World in Florida

Fireworks explode over a guest during the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot at Walt Disney World in Orange County, Florida, on May 30, 2022. (Joseph Prezioso/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images / Getty Images)

"We are monitoring the progression of the draft legislation, which is complex given the long history of the Reedy Creek Improvement District," Jeff Vahle, president of the Walt Disney World Resort, said in a statement to FOX Business. "Disney works under a number of different models and jurisdictions around the world, and regardless of the outcome, we remain committed to providing the highest quality experience for millions of guests who visit each year."


Returning Disney CEO Bob Iger will face the company’s shareholders Wednesday afternoon amid a firestorm of upcoming financial and board decisions. Wall Street traders and Disney investors will get a look at the entertainment conglomerate’s fourth-quarter results after the market closes.

Fox Business' Aislinn Murphy, Joe Toppe and Ken Martin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.