The Walt Disney Co. amended its federal lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday, adding claims that the Republican governor and GOP-led Florida Legislature have worked to cancel development contracts between the city of Orlando and the entertainment giant and target the company’s monorail system.
Disney said in the amended lawsuit the moves are part of a “retribution campaign” against the company because it spoke out against a parental rights in education bill that, in part, forbids classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity for children in kindergarten through third grade “or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
“A targeted campaign of government retaliation — orchestrated at every step by Gov. DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech — now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights,” Disney said in the lawsuit.
After Disney commented on the parental rights bill, DeSantis moved to dissolve the company’s more than 50-year agreement with the state to self-govern a nearly 39-square-mile parcel of land in central Florida on which it built the Walt Disney World resort.
The state replaced the Reedy Creek Improvement District board with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, whose board members were picked by DeSantis, widely considered a challenger for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
DeSantis on Friday signed a law that allows the board to ignore development agreements approved by the previous board. Disney claims in the amended lawsuit that legislation violates the Contract Clause in the First Amendment, in which the Constitution seeks to “protect private rights from state interference by limiting the states’ power to enact legislation that alters existing contract rights.”
“These government actions were patently retaliatory, patently anti-business, and patently unconstitutional,” Disney said in the lawsuit. “But the governor and his allies have made clear they do not care and will not stop.”
The Legislature also passed HB 1305, a transportation bill, that targets Disney through an amendment that said the state must create safety rules and perform safety inspections for “privately owned and or operated fixed-guideway transportation systems” located in special districts that have boundaries in two counties.
The only company in the state with such a system is Disney World. Disney controlled inspections by itself, but Republicans pointed to a monorail crash in 2009 that killed a driver as reason for the legislation.
Newsmax reached out to DeSantis’ office for comment on the amended lawsuit.
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