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Ron DeSantis signs bill allowing Florida to shut down Disney World’s monorail

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and the Disney World monorail Photo: YouTube screenshot composite

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has signed S.B. 1250, a general transportation bill that subjects Disney World’s iconic monorail to inspections and possible shutdowns. The newly signed law is just the latest move that the DeSantis administration has made against Disney over the media corporation’s opposition to the state’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law.

The bill allows state officials to inspect and shut down the company’s monorail and “fixed-guideway transportation systems… to ensure safety and welfare” for passengers and inspectors.

While the law doesn’t specifically mention Disney, its provisions only apply to fixed-guideway transportation systems “located within an independent special district created by local act which have boundaries within two contiguous counties.” Only Disney’s monorail and its newly-constructed Disney Skyliner gondola tram fit the bill’s description, The Hill reported.

Historically, Disney has been allowed to inspect and maintain its own transportation systems. The Orlando theme park unveiled its 15-mile monorail in 1971. It has only had a half-dozen incidents during its history, including a 2009 crash that killed a 21-year-old driver and several non-lethal crashes and fires, WFTV reported.

State Sen. Nick DiCeglie (R) said that the new law has been “long overdue” since the monorail’s lethal 2009 crash, Florida Politics reported.

“I want to make sure when I’m on the monorail that the monorail is safe,” DiCeglie said while discussing the law on the Senate floor. “I want to know that this great state and the great folks at Florida Department of Transportation are inspecting these just like they do the other monorails.”

Disney recently sued DeSantis and other Florida officials over their alleged “targeted campaign of government retaliation” after the company criticized Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. Disney says the DeSantis administration’s retaliation violated the company’s right to free speech — the company’s claims are seemingly backed up by admissions DeSantis made in his own recently published autobiography.

After Disney spoke out against Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, DeSantis continuously criticized the company in public, and Florida’s Republican-led legislature revoked Disney’s decades-old special zoning agreement that allowed the company to oversee its 25,000-acre property near Orlando.

In February, DeSantis signed a bill abolishing the district and then appointed a five-member board to oversee Disney’s district. One of the board members is an ally of the anti-LGBTQ+ group Moms For Liberty. Another is Ron Peri, an anti-LGBTQ+ pastor who believes women on birth control urinate estrogen into tap water, making anyone who drinks the water likely to turn gay, CNN noted.

However, the board’s appointees quickly learned that the previous board sneaked in a last-minute development agreement with Disney, allowing it to maintain much of its autonomy and rendering the new board rather powerless. After the board voted to undo the agreement, Disney sued, and the board counter-sued.

DeSantis has also threatened to build a prison next to Disney and called for state oversight of Disney World’s rides. His revenge quest has caused him to be ridiculed by a local paper for declaring “thermonuclear war on a cartoon mouse.” He has also been mocked by Saturday Night Live for having married his wife at Disney World in 2009.

This week, Disney CEO Bob Iger lashed out at the Florida government’s vendetta against the company. Disney, Iger said during the company’s second-quarter earnings call, paid over $1.1 billion in local and state taxes last year and is “the largest taxpayer in Central Florida.” He said the company was planning to invest $17 billion in Florida over the next 10 years, “which is what the state should want us to do.”

“One question,” Iger asked during the call. “Does the state want us to invest more, employ more people, and pay more taxes — or not? We’ve built a business that employs, as we’ve said before, over 75,000 people and attracts tens of millions of people to the state.”

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