DeSantis signs bill allowing Florida board to cancel Disney deals

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a bill into law that gives a new board he controls the power to void development agreements its predecessor body signed with Disney – the latest episode in a feud between the conservative governor and the entertainment giant.

Under the bill, which passed the Republican-controlled legislature largely along party lines, the Central Tourism Oversight District Board – whose members are appointed by DeSantis – can cancel any deals signed up to three months before the board’s creation.

“Make no mistake about it, the reason why the legislature had to act was not because of anything we did,” DeSantis said at a news conference Friday. “It was basically born out of Disney’s arrogance that they would be able to subcontract around the duly enacted laws of the state of Florida. That’s wrong.”

Walt Disney Co declined to comment.

The legislature formed the board in February to replace the Disney-controlled Reedy Creek Improvement District to oversee development in the 25,000 acres (10,120 hectares) surrounding Walt Disney World, effectively wresting control from the company and handing it to DeSantis.

Disney, the largest employer in central Florida, and the Republican governor have been responded with its own lawsuit in a state court, saying it sought to void “backroom deals” favorable to Disney.

Disney’s stock is up nearly 16 percent in the year to date, compared with an 8 percent gain in the S&P 500 index.

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