Congressional Republicans push bill to abolish the no-fly zones over Disney’s theme parks

Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert are among the Congressmembers accused of helping plan the Capitol Insurrection
Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert are among the Congressmembers accused of helping plan the Capitol Insurrection Photo: Screenshot/Jim Lambert via Shutterstock

Congressman Troy Nehls (R-TX) has reintroduced the Airlines Independent of Restrictions (AIR) Act, a federal bill seeking to abolish the no-fly zones that currently exist over Disney’s theme parks.

These zones are established over both Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California. They were set up in 2003 after Disney lobbyists advocated for them to be added to a bill, seemingly in response to the September 11th terrorist attacks as a way to protect guests (though no other theme parks have them).

Proponents of abolishing the fly zones argue Disney does not deserve special treatment and also that the businesses of pilots who tow advertising banners have suffered from not being able to fly over Disney’s theme parks.

But it seems likely that the timing of Nehls introducing the bill is related to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) current feud with the company over its opposition to the state’s Don’t Say Gay law.

“The federal government should not grant special privileges and pick favorites for powerful well-connected companies like Disney,” Nehls said in a statement. “Measures designed to protect our national security and public safety should not be co-opted by corporations looking to gain.”

Since Disney spoke out against the Don’t Say Gay law, DeSantis and other Florida Republicans have sought to retaliate by stripping the corporation of its power and autonomy.

Nehls first introduced the AIR Act in June 2022, only a few months after Disney released a statement declaring that the Don’t Say Gay bill “should never have passed” and that the company’s goal was to get the law repealed.

Cosponsors of Nehls’s bill include Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), and Gregory Steube (R-FL). The latter two also cosponsored a federal Don’t Say Gay bill in 2022.

This year, Steube also introduced the “Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023,” which seeks to amend Title IX regulations so that “individuals whose biological sex at birth was male” cannot “participate in programs that are for women and girls.”

Disney is currently suing Gov. DeSantis, accusing him and other state officials of a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint.” The Republican-led effort, the lawsuit alleges, violates its constitutional rights to free speech and to conduct contracts without state legal interference.

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