Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is continuing his fight against Walt Disney Co., which opposed the Parental Rights in Education Act that was signed into law by the state on March 28, 2020. The legislation is known as the "Don't Say Gay" law and it limits LGBTQ+ education within schools. Many view this legislation as anti-gay.
Disney initially did not have a position regarding the Parental Rights in Education Act. Disney's employees and shareholders complained that they had not taken a position on the Parental Rights in Education Act. Disney then announced their opposition to the act and stated it would support legal efforts to overturn the law. The company avoided the wrath from its employees by avoiding the Florida Legislature and Governor.
DeSantis, in retaliation for Disney, signed the bill dissolving the Reedy Creek Improvement District on April 21, 2022. In 1967, the Florida Legislature passed the Reedy Creek Improvement District law, which allowed Disney to govern the 39-square mile area that is home to Disney World, independently of the local municipal government.
DeSantis clearly wanted to punish Disney when he passed the bill. DeSantis stated that he would use his economic power to attack parents in my state. We view that as an act of provocation and will fight back.
"Attacking my state's parents?" DeSantis created a fake enemy to serve his political goals, which he then attacked. A common political strategy.
Reedy Creek Improvement District benefited Disney World because it simplified the construction of its theme park, and provided supporting services. Local municipalities also benefited from the Reedy Creek Improvement District because they were relieved of the costs and responsibilities of providing services for such a large company. Fitch Ratings placed Reedy Creek's bond debt on negative watch after the Improvement District was disbanded.
Since I wrote my first article about this battle between DeSantis vs. Disney in April of 2022, there has been ongoing conflict between the Reedy Creek Board appointed by Disney, and the new board named by DeSantis at the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. The new board is reportedly going to investigate Disney as well as the former board for criminal conduct. DeSantis is not confined in his retribution.
The Supreme Court ruled in the 2006 case Hartman v. Moore that "The First Amendment prohibits officials from taking retaliatory measures, including criminal prosecutions for speaking out."
Adam Winkler, professor of law at UCLA School of Law, stated that it is a violation of First Amendment to punish a company for its expressed views on political issues. I believe that there will be legal challenges.
Leaders who are effective use logic and not revenge to make decisions. Effective leaders don't make decisions based on emotion, but rather identify the unintended consequences. We'll see how DeSantis affects swing voters.
The GOP used be the party that limited government intervention in the affairs individuals and businesses. No longer. DeSantis is primarily focused on cultural issues, including marginalizing LGBTQ+ people, banning books and restricting sex-education in public schools. DeSantis has targeted the progressive New College of Florida and replaced board members with conservatives. So much for 'limited government intervention', the GOP's ideology.
New Hampshire Republican Governor. Chris Sununu said at a National Rifle Association Conference that Republicans would need to gain support from a broad range of voters to win in the year 2024, especially the crucial bloc of independent voters (swing voters) who decide many races.
I do not think the current GOP cultural policy will be acceptable to independent voters.
The GOP traditionally has valued limited government intervention in the affairs and people of companies. The time will tell.