Sources with knowledge of the matter report that Disney is increasing its lobbying efforts in the Republican-controlled state Legislature of Florida to prevent the passage of bills that could negatively impact the company. Although a Disney spokesman refused to comment, insiders claim that lobbyists have been asked to pay closer attention to land use-related bills in particular. The increased activity follows a previous dispute in which Disney opposed a bill referred to as “Don’t Say Gay.” The company has also signed a long-term development agreement with a board that oversees the area where Disney is based, limiting the governor’s control.
Republican Criticism of DeSantis
Disney’s ongoing conflict with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has led to criticism from several high-profile Republicans and business leaders. Last year, DeSantis opposed Disney’s stance on the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and he has recently suggested the development of land near Disney World. In response, Disney announced that it would be opening affordable housing near the park in 2026. Republican Florida state Senator Blaise Ingoglia has warned Disney not to fight back against DeSantis, but Disney executives have called on lobbyists to take action against any bills that could harm the company, particularly those related to land use.
One bill that Disney lobbyists are watching carefully is CS/SB 1604, which covers land use and development regulations. Ingoglia introduced the bill in the Senate, and an identical measure was proposed in the state House. The measures could allow a governing body to review development agreements and vote on whether to readopt the original agreement, which could affect Disney’s current development agreement with the governing board.
Friends of Disney CEO Bob Iger suggest that a new lobbying effort, combined with negative public perception, could dissuade enough Republican officials from siding with DeSantis. Although DeSantis holds a GOP supermajority in the state legislature, some Republican megadonors have expressed concerns about the ongoing conflict and suggested that they may back a different candidate in the 2024 GOP presidential race, such as Senator Tim Scott.
Despite these tensions, Iger has expressed openness to resolving the conflict, stating that he does not view it as a “going-to-mattresses” situation and that he would be open to meeting with DeSantis to discuss the matter.
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