TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida House of Representatives voted Thursday to dissolve Disney's Reedy Creek independent special district, leaving the governor's signature as the last step before the bill becomes law.

Some fear the move will now have far-reaching consequences.

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The legislation, filed by State Rep. Randy Fine (R- District 53), came after Gov. Ron DeSantis requested the move to end “independent special districts” in the state.

It’s been criticized as a “knee-jerk reaction” and political retribution against Disney. It comes amid the company’s opposition to the “Parental Rights in Education” law, also dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay Bill.”  

Disney’s special district, Reedy Creek, independently handles services like firefighting, EMS, garbage collection, water treatment, parking, and more. That’s what’s leading many to worry over the consequences that ending the district could have.

The move could have huge tax implications for Disney, whose series of theme parks have transformed Orlando into one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, and serves to further sour the relationship between the Republican-led government and a major political player in the state.

For DeSantis, the attack on Disney is his latest salvo in a culture war waged over policies such as race, gender and the coronavirus.

The dispute with Disney involves the company’s criticism of a new law barring instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade as well as instruction in any grade that is not “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”

In March, Disney said it would suspend political donations in the state and added that it would in turn support organizations working to oppose the new law. DeSantis and his fellow Republicans then lashed out at Disney, and have defended the law as reasonable.

“Disney and other woke corporations won’t get away with peddling their unchecked pressure campaigns any longer,” DeSantis wrote in a fundraising pitch Wednesday. “If we want to keep the Democrat machine and their corporate lapdogs accountable, we have to stand together now.”

Disney is one of Florida’s biggest private employers, last year saying it had more than 60,000 workers in the state. It is not immediately clear how the company or local governments around its properties would be affected if the district was dissolved.

The Florida Senate approved the measure Wednesday before sending it to the House for approval Thursday. It will now go to DeSantis for his signature.

Fine insisted that there is time for special districts to be reinstated before the dissolutions go into effect on June 1, 2023. That applies to those six established before a state constitutional amendment in 1968.

Districts would need to realign adherence to these regulations passed after they formed, in order to keep that special district status.

Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph said his county’s taxpayers alone could see a financial obligation of $105 Million to pick up the services currently covered by Disney. He considers the move to dissolve its special district something like a tax break for Disney.

“Quite frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Disney’s not popping champagne in the back room somewhere,” Randolph said. “I’m not so sure how this punishes Disney.”

Randolph believes the only way the county could deal with the added expenditures would be to raise property taxes, the county portion estimated to an increase of about 15% and 20%.

 The Reedy Creek District has a debt of more than $1 billion and Fine insisted it would not fall on taxpayers to pay a bill.

“There is no effect on the taxpayers unless for whatever reason the local politicians wanted to stop collecting taxes from Disney," he said. "I don’t know why they would do that? If they continue to do what is already being done there is no impact on taxpayers, none.”

A local election law attorney says it's hard to determine anything with certainty right now.

Kara Consalo, a faculty member in the Legal Studies Department at the University of Central Florida, said she understands the process of debts being transferred to counties. There are too many unknowns when it comes to this situation, she said.

Those unknowns include how the assets and debts of Reedy Creek are being financed, how they will be transferred, and then how Osceola and Orange counties would absorb those debts.

“This is a bit of an unusual circumstance and it is going to be interesting to see how much the parties work together work to make a smooth transition,” she said.

Other opponents of the bill are concerned about a potential ripple effect, and the message it sends.

“We many times give incentives for companies to move to Florida," said State Rep. Geraldine Thompson (D-District 44). "Do you perceive this to be a disincentive for Reedy Creek, for Disney to stay in Florida rather than move someplace else?” 

“I don’t mean to be flippant, but I don’t think it would be really easy to put Cinderella’s castle on a truck and drive it somewhere else," Fine replied. "That said, I don’t think this Legislature would ever allow another company to independently govern itself."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.