Disney could lose Big Tech carve-out in Gov. DeSantis-backed bill
Image via AP.

disney
The bill follows the public spat between Disney and Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Lawmakers are moving forward with a plan to end a theme parks carve-out from last year’s social media bill as Republicans crack down on Disney’s influence.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced plans Tuesday morning for the state to append legislation to claw back Disney’s power to the Special Session on redistricting. GOP lawmakers are pushing the move after the entertainment conglomerate publicly opposed Florida’s law about classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Among the proposals are bills (SB 6C/HB 5C) to remove a carve-out for companies that own theme parks from a law that tries to protect users from social media “censorship.” The language deliberately targets the Walt Disney Company and Disney Plus.

The identical proposals passed legislative committees Tuesday afternoon. The full Senate took up its version during a floor session later Tuesday with plans to pass it Wednesday. The House is expected to pass the legislation Thursday.

While the bill filings followed DeSantis’ expanded Special Session call, Rep. Alex Andrade — the Pensacola Republican sponsoring the House bill — told members of the House Judiciary Committee that his bill has nothing to do with what Disney has done since the Legislature passed the social media deplatforming bill (SB 7072) less than a year ago. That’s despite conservatives’ calls to rein in Disney’s power and even boycott the company’s businesses over its opposition to the Parental Rights in Education bill.

“The only hate I have in my heart for anybody is carve-outs,” Andrade told Florida Politics. “My wife and I still very much love Disney World. We still very much plan to continue going to Disney World in the future. For me, it’s got nothing to do with any of the public rhetoric.”

In July 2021, hours before last year’s social media bill was supposed to take effect, federal Judge Robert Hinkle in the Northern District of Florida pumped the brakes on the law, citing the carve-out as one reason he viewed the law as unconstitutional. An appeal to that injunction heads to oral arguments on April 28.

The bill eliminating the carve-out, which would take effect immediately upon becoming law, could assist the state in court.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association, a Washington-based nonprofit association with members including Facebook and Twitter, is one of two organizations that sued Florida over last year’s social media law. In a prepared statement, CCIA President Matt Schruers said removing the Disney carve-out wouldn’t change the bill’s underlying constitutional problems.

“If Gov. DeSantis had realized sooner that the internet regulations his own office lobbied for were wrong, he might have saved Floridians hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses,” Schruers said. “But this law is wrong not because the legislature carved out a once-favored Florida company, but because the government has no business dictating what speech private businesses must host.”

Andrade called the carve-out an “inelegant solution” adopted in the final days of the 2021 Legislative Session to address Disney’s desire to protect children using the company’s online platforms from pedophiles. With the benefit of time, Andrade said lawmakers have seen that the carve-out was unnecessary because it’s already protected under federal law.

DeSantis proposed the social media deplatforming bill after Twitter and other prominent social media companies removed then-President Donald Trump from their platforms following the U.S. Capitol riot. By the time the bill reached the Governor’s desk, it contained a carve-out for companies that own theme parks, which Spring Hill Republican Rep. Blaise Ingoglia said was a move to protect Disney Plus.

Freelance investigative reporter Jason Garcia wrote in February that language to protect Disney was crafted during the final two days of the 2021 Legislative Session arose after conversations with the Governor’s Office. The Governor’s staff and legislative staff were resistant to Disney’s suggestions, according to the report, but eventually adopted the theme park approach.

Some Democrats, like Tampa Democratic Rep. Fentrice Driskell, criticized the lack of time lawmakers and the public had to review the bill to remove that carve-out. Andrade refused to answer questions regarding when he began drafting the bill, which was filed within a minute of DeSantis’ letter expanding the Special Session.

“The one thing that I hate worse than carve-outs is when this process is not taken seriously and given the respect that it deserves, and that’s what’s happening today,” Driskell said.

St. Petersburg Democratic Rep. Ben Diamond, a candidate for Congress, called the measure a distraction from more pressing issues Floridians want the Legislature to address.

“We shouldn’t be up here fighting Mickey Mouse,” Diamond said. “We should be up here fighting for our constituents.”

Andrade denied that Disney’s public opposition to what critics have called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill spawned the repeal bill. But the topic emerged after a public spat between Disney and DeSantis over the law. The parental rights legislation prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity before the fourth grade and opens the door for parents to sue School Boards over instruction about LGBTQ topics they oppose.

While Diamond argued lawmakers are targeting Disney because DeSantis wants to stay in the headlines, Tallahassee Democratic Rep. Ramon Alexander, the House Democratic Leader-designate, alluded to speculation that DeSantis will run for President in 2024.

“Absolute power for one person or one individual to dictate what we do in this process is a threat to our democracy,” Alexander said.

Tampa Democratic Sen. Janet Cruz made a similar call during Tuesday’s Senate Community Affairs Committee meeting.

“This is not a bill for the citizens of the state of Florida. This is not a bill for the children that visit Disney,” Cruz said. “This is a bill to further the career and appeal to people in different states like Iowa.”

___

Jason Delgado of Florida Politics contributed to this report.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


25 comments

  • Just buisness

    April 19, 2022 at 7:24 pm

    A tourism state going after the tourism?

    that mouse is hold his head under water.

    • Jerry

      April 19, 2022 at 8:19 pm

      A lot of people are now boycotting Disney because of Disney’s position on this. So we are going to lose those tourists regardless because the Disney clown CEO doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut.

      I don’t understand why major corporations like this all of a sudden decide to take a strong stand on a controversial topic or issue that they have nothing to do with. What the heck does Disney have to do with how kindergartners are taught in public schools? And Disney is fine getting involved in this debate and alienating half their customers? Really?

      • Mire

        April 20, 2022 at 1:47 am

        “A lot of people are now boycotting Disney”

        So what? They make more money then every person getting income in Florida.

  • Rob Smith, Jr.

    April 19, 2022 at 7:56 pm

    Research this further.
    As DeSantis stated, this is about the long out of touch, out of date “Reedy Creek Improvement District” that was only intended to last a short time and is now over 55 years old.

    Disney can take of itself then and now and needs to be responsible for it’s two cities and not have the State hold it’s hand just to squeeze cash out of all of us.

    It would also be nice to grill Disney for it’s environmental abuse without being shielded by the State.

    • Becuase i will

      April 20, 2022 at 1:56 am

      “Responsible for it’s two cities”

      The county is responsible for cities. Disney just buys permits, and I hope you enjoy the higher taxes as much as I will enjoy watching You have to pay them.

      • Stephen Cook

        May 3, 2022 at 4:01 pm

        I bet your gay and you suck minor boy dicks.

  • Jerry

    April 19, 2022 at 8:30 pm

    If Disney wants to take a strong commitment to social justice and equality, why do they continue to ignore the human rights abuses in China? Why does Disney feel OK to attack Florida’s government but not China’s? They sure don’t want to bite that hand that feeds them. Do they? Well, guess what…Florida bites hard too. The Mouse will learn that the hard way.

    No more favoritism for this company that has obviously grown much too woke and too radical left for this state. Walt would be ashamed what’s happened to his company.

  • Impeach Biden

    April 19, 2022 at 9:34 pm

    So we are going to lose those tourists regardless because the Disney clown CEO doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut.

    I copied the above statement from Jerry. He is exactly correct on the above. This Disney CEO makes a ton of money but evidently is as dumb as rocks. How he allowed himself and the Disney Corporation to be pulled into this mess is complete stupidity on his part.

    • That’s Good

      April 20, 2022 at 1:59 am

      “How to keep his mouth shut

      No Disney won’t lose anything.

      You will lose money though. And that’s fine

      • Impeach Biden

        April 20, 2022 at 5:54 am

        Simple. Stay out of politics. Disney is in the entertainment business not into politics. I won’t lose a thing. Disney is the one who will be hurt by this financially. How much? Who knows.

  • PeterH

    April 19, 2022 at 9:38 pm

    If the legislators and DeSantis actually follow through with their plan to punish Disney for their social policy positions ….. I hope that Disney states that they plan to close Disneyworld Florida on December 23, 2022 if Florida voters re-elect Ron DeSantis.

    Penalties can work both ways. Major Orlando hotels, restaurants and alternative amusement venues survive on Disneyworld. Let’s see what happens

    • Tom

      April 20, 2022 at 12:39 pm

      Wah, Wah, Wah, classic peter h.
      If we don’t get our way, if we are not in charge, I’ll huff and puff so to blow the house down. Cry eye. Grow up you pathetic child. Go light your tiki torches with your predator Lincoln group. Wah!

      • PeterH

        April 20, 2022 at 3:31 pm

        The goal of EVERY American voter should be to remove every Republican from office. They can no longer be trusted to make conservative business choices that are in the best interest of all Americans. Every Republican must be removed from office.

        • Stephen Cook

          May 3, 2022 at 4:03 pm

          Yes and your black neighbors huge black dick should be removed from your wifes mouth and ass.

  • JD

    April 19, 2022 at 10:06 pm

    This clearly punitive and to paint it as not is a mockery of sensible voters.

    And to put it in a special session is a waste of all our tax money.

    Do something about the insurance and housing crises and stop acting butt hurt legislators and governor.

    • Tom

      April 20, 2022 at 1:11 pm

      JD, welcome back lost Manchurian.
      As for the other cry eyes they can be included. Seems as if they’ve rallied to your cause JD. LOL.

      Appreciate you JD, just to clarify they have spent millions on housing snd passed insurance measures last year. They have called a special session for rising HO insurance.

      To be clear to all Manchurian nation, Disney made no attempt to lobby, advocate on the legislation In the House, they waited til the 11 3/4 hr, in Senate at very end, it was clear it was going to pass. They have 32 lobbyists, they only some up when media approached employees. They are entitled to speak up. They were asleep at the wheel. Some say purposefully.

      They are silent on top gun and China demanding the cruise jacket take Taiwan patch off. All the other abuses in China. But they enter 11 3/4 hr to spout outrage.

      Disney has enjoyed great benefits in Florida as has the state. It’s mutual.

      Let’s stop making this Dem, Dum Manchurian talking points. The opponents are lying bout this legislation. Get over it!

      • JD

        April 20, 2022 at 1:16 pm

        How about the $1B in revenue bond those counties are going to have to absorb? It’s moot until next year’s June – but it passed 23 to 16.

        Can you give an example of the lying talking points? I watched the pre-vote debate.

        • JD

          April 20, 2022 at 1:17 pm

          Oh and talk about the 11th hour where they added this Bill what time? Yesterday? To a Special Session. Kettle Black.

          • Tom

            April 20, 2022 at 2:42 pm

            You are conflating multiple issues in one JD. We don’t know what the state may absorb to offset, assist. Rainy day reserve fund is quite fluid. Over $15 billion or so in reserves. Thanks to America’s Governor.

            The lying reference is bout the original bill, legislation. Nationally and state polling affirms the right to exclude any discussion k -3. Let it go. I’m not watching today’s debate as you may be doing.

            The Gov called special session, Disney is aware of the proposed reedy creek bill, unless the 32 lobbyists are eating all day. He announced it yesterday. Not sure why you are so twisted bout this, your choice.

            It was passed in 68. Lot has changed.
            Always enjoy debate with JD.
            Regards

  • tom palmer

    April 20, 2022 at 5:45 am

    This makes me wonder which way Disney will go now. Will they take their licks and move on or will they try to recruit and finance candidates to accomplish a little payback somewhere down the line?
    Also, will local officials in Orange and Osceola counties simply set up special taxing districts similar to the current state setup and make some of the legislation’s effects academic.
    Meanwhile, the dishonesty in Tallahassee is breathtaking Of course this has nothing to do with Disney’s political stances, It’s just something we do on Mondays.

    • ScienceBLVR

      April 20, 2022 at 6:33 am

      Right on, Tom, as far as the uselessness of FL Legislative Mondays in Tally or any other day for that matter. And what is with the “punitive stuff”? This is how a government entity acts? If it’s not at war with private companies that take political stances it doesn’t agree with, it’s the war on school districts and schools, and teachers, and books? I mean books? Really? Disney in Florida employs over 70,000 people and brings billions of tourist dollars to our state – a state that doesn’t have a state income tax and whose funding relies on those tourists. It appears Disney has realized the idiocy and irrelevancy of our Republican led state legislature and Governor and will quit funding their political campaigns. Vote them out!

  • Adam Lin Wendling

    April 20, 2022 at 10:37 am

    businesses can have free speech when it agrees with what the party in power wants. professors can have free speech so long as it agrees with the state. free state of florida, right?

  • PeterH

    April 20, 2022 at 3:35 pm

    It’s now official:

    Ron DeSantis is now the party leader of: “THE FREEDUMB COUNTRY OF AMERICA”

    Voters have a choice.

  • Tom

    April 20, 2022 at 4:55 pm

    You are the village Idiot peter h.
    If you aren’t lighting torches, you are toweling off Lincoln.

    America’s Gov stands above the field.
    Accomplishments by the dozens.
    Biden, Harris, mayor pete, your cousin all klobachur LMAO, all are second to him.

    He’s the runaway in party, without 45 and across the line. Who you got. Sex tape with fraud? Camillion? Tarantula. Please

    Lincoln spent $500,000 be Youngkin snd lost ass. Play it again sam with Desantis!

  • Ben

    April 21, 2022 at 3:19 pm

    If Desantis signs this bill into law he will raise the taxes of Florida residents by $2000 yearly. So much for the party of fiscal responsibility and freedom.

Comments are closed.


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