Florida lawmakers working to let Disney avoid 'Don't Say Gay' fallout: report
Florida lawmakers are working on a compromise that would let Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) keep running a private government for its theme parks in the Sunshine State, the Financial Times reported.
The news outlet, citing people briefed on the plan, noted that the rules that were put in place years ago for the land, known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, would keep seeing Disney (DIS) tax itself to cover the cost of water power, roads and fire services, but with some slight modifications.
In April, Florida ended the special treatment that Disney (DIS) had received since 1967, as governor Ron DeSantis and former Disney (DIS) CEO Bob Chapek publicly argued over the state's controversial Parental Rights in Education law, also known as the "Don't Say Gay" bill.
The Reedy Creek Improvement District exempted Disney (DIS) from a number of regulations, taxes and fees as it manages the land under Walt Disney World. With its cancellation, management of the sprawling complex would fall heavily on the two counties it spreads across: Orange and Osceola counties.
Many lawmakers and experts have argued that the legislation would have imposed a tax increase on the citizens of Florida by as much as $1B.
Initially, Chapek and Disney (DIS) were silent over the legislation, but after pressure by the company's employees to oppose the legislation, Chapek and Disney (DIS) publicly opposed the new law, angering DeSantis.
The FT added that the surprise return of Bob Iger last month as Disney (DIS) CEO may eventually wind up being the resulting factor in a settlement between the entertainment giant and Florida's lawmakers over the rule, in place since 1967, according to the people.
In an interview with the FT, Randy Fine, a Republican lawmaker who drafted the law, said Chapek's removal made it easier to allow for some kind of agreement to "get sorted out.”
"It’s easier to shift policy when you don’t have to defend the old policy," Fine said. "Chapek screwed up, but Bob Iger doesn’t have to own that screw-up."
A potential compromise could include barring Disney (DIS) from building a nuclear power plant or airport on the land, two rights it was granted in the 1967 agreement that the company is unlikely to use. DeSantis may also appoint two members to the Randy Creek board, Linda Stewart, a Democratic state senator, told the FT.
On Tuesday, Disney (DIS) released its annual report that said Iger would reorganize the company in the coming months, leading to an increase in spending.
Seeking Alpha's Jason Aycock contributed to this story.