TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Today, Florida lawmakers in both chambers are working through day two of Special Session B. With expected floor votes on Wednesday, lawmakers are working quickly to move proposed legislation through committees today.
House Speaker Paul Renner and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo said on Friday that regular pre-session committees would continue to move forward alongside the Special Session.
DISNEY’S “CORPORATE KINGDOM”
After releasing HB 9B yesterday, the House is discussing how to move forward with the dismantling of Disney’s “Corporate Kingdom” while also protecting local-area residents from an increased tax burden. The bill would undo a move last year to dissolve the tax district – overhauling its governance, changing the name and giving control to a state-appointed board.
“Florida is dissolving the Corporate Kingdom and beginning a new era of accountability and transparency,” said Bryan Griffin, Press Secretary for Governor Ron DeSantis.
WON’T SHIFT TO TAXPAYERS
House Representative Fred Hawkins, the bill’s sponsor, says the replacement district won’t shift Disney’s debt burden to Osceola or Orange County taxpayers. Instead, A five-member Board of Supervisors, appointed by the Governor, and approved by the Senate, would ensure that Disney is taxed appropriately.
Walt Disney World Resort President Jeff Vahle said the company is monitoring the legislation, “which is complex given the long history of the Reedy Creek Improvement District.”
“Disney works under a number of different models and jurisdictions around the world, and regardless of the outcome, we remain committed to providing the highest quality experience for the millions of guests who visit each year,” Vahle wrote in a statement.
“People say, why wouldn’t this be voter-approved? Why wouldn’t you allow the voters of Osceola and Orange to do this?” said Rep. Hawkins. “Well, then that would make them responsible for the debt if we allowed a voter referendum.”
HOUSE AND SENATE ADVANCE HURRICANE AID AND IMMIGRATION BILLS
The House advanced HB 1B through the Appropriations Committee. The bill would top up the emergency relief fund with $650 million to allow the Division of Emergency Management to respond to future natural disasters.
SB 2B, a bill moving through the Senate, would create a Local Government Emergency Response Bridge Loan program to assist communities hit by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole. A $50 million one-time allocation from the general revenue fund would start the program.
The house also advanced HB 5B, which would create the Unauthorized Alien Transport Program under the Division of Emergency Management (DEM) within the Executive Office of the Governor. Under the program, the state may facilitate the transport of inspected unauthorized aliens within the United States, consistent with federal law.
MEDICAID EXPANSION BILL TURNED DOWN
House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell’s push for consideration of a Medicaid expansion bill in the Special Session was turned down by House Republicans. Driskell told reporters that she wanted to bring attention to the issues of the Democratic minority by trying to expand the agenda of the Special Session – a move Driskell unsuccessfully attempted in the last Special Session.