West News Wire: Disney has filed a lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and a number of his officials for allegedly “weaponiz[ing] local government power against Disney” in retaliation for using its constitutionally protected right to free expression. The Wednesday lawsuit aims to stop the “unconstitutional” laws against Disney from coming into effect.   

According to the lawsuit, Disney was “merely expressing a political viewpoint unpopular with certain state officials” when it publicly criticised the state’s Parental Rights in Education Act, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, last year. This, the lawsuit claims, led to DeSantis’ “targeted campaign of government retaliation.”  

The subsequent law enforcement effort “threatens Disney’s business operation, jeopardises its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights,” the lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Northern Florida. 

The state oversight board on Wednesday voided development contracts Disney values at $17 billion, an action the company called “patently retaliatory, patently anti-business, and patently unconstitutional.” The governor has also threatened to tax Disney’s hotels, levy tolls on roads accessing the theme park, build “more amusement parks” on nearby property, and even construct a “state prison” abutting Disney World. 

DeSantis dissolved Reedy Creek Improvement District, the special self-governing arrangement Disney had held for half a century, earlier this year, replacing it with his own Central Florida Tourism Oversight District to administer the theme park. Disney countered by implementing a rule that would essentially defang the government’s oversight by requiring the board to give the company the ability to “review and comment” on any proposed changes. 

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Following that, the Florida governor urged his inspector general to open both criminal and civil investigations into the business, alleging that Disney had used “collusive and self-dealing arrangements” to circumvent his limits.   

Theme park in Florida will get $17 billion in investments over the next ten years from Disney CEO Bob Iger, creating at least 13,000 new direct jobs and many more indirect ones. By provoking the corporation, Florida, he claims, is cutting food off its own table.   

DeSantis has responded that Disney’s “woke” direction is false and goes against the company’s reputation as a family-friendly entertainment provider, noting that their opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” measure only surfaced in response to Democratic and LGBT community criticism. 


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