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Bills to kill Disney-Reedy Creek deal move to Senate, House floors

TALLAHASSEE — Proposals to void Disney’s last-minute development agreement with Reedy Creek cleared the Senate Rules and House State Affairs committee along party lines Wednesday and are now headed to both chambers for final passage.

The measures, introduced as amendments to land planning bills, would allow any new special district board to invalidate any contracts or agreements approved up to three months “preceding the effective date of a law modifying the manner of selecting [its] members.”

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The Senate amendment doesn’t mention the new board appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, Disney World, or Reedy Creek, but sponsor Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, admitted its target after Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-Miami Gardens, asked how many special districts would be affected.

“I’m not sure how many, but I can think of one … off the top of my head,” Ingoglia said.

To which Jones replied, “So clearly this is geared toward Disney because we’ve been seeing that.”

“The amendment would be for anyone in that situation but I know what you’re getting at but, yes, that’s been well publicized and this would apply to that,” Ingoglia said.

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Prior to the amendment’s passage, the original land-planning bill appeared to have bipartisan support.

“I was excited to vote on (Ingoglia’s) bill without any drama if we don’t have to address 100-pound elephant in the room,” Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation said, referring to Disney World. “But this is too far. We had a great bill that I was ready to support … but this goes too far.”

Jones said he was concerned whether other special districts or businesses that don’t agree with the Legislature’s political decisions could be next.

“I think Reedy Creek operated within the law and what we’re doing is not the way we should govern,” Jones said. “It is not the precedent we should set because it’s just bad governing.”

Democrats in the House committee questioned the constitutionality of targeting a single entity and using legislation to void contracts.

“I don’t like that we’re interfering with private businesses. I don’t like that the Legislature is being used as a pawn to promote some type of battle between the governor and a private entity,” said Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby, a St. Petersburg Democrat who is an attorney. “You know, sometimes you just get out-lawyered.”

News Service of Florida contributed to this report.


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