Gop of Florida, Ron DeSantis, to Receive Disney Monorail Reports Soon: During Wednesday’s session, the Florida House of Representatives gave final approval to a measure that would result in the state Department of Transportation evaluating the monorail system at Walt Disney World. This comes as Governor Ron DeSantis is engaged in a legal battle with Disney.
The monorail inspections were written into a comprehensive transportation measure (HB 1305) that is currently on its way to DeSantis for approval. The law was passed by the House with a vote count of 83 in favor and 32 against on Thursday after it had been passed by the Senate on Tuesday.
In order to pass, the law needs state monitoring of “any governmentally or privately owned fixed-guideway transportation systems operating in this state which are located within an independent special district created by a local act which have boundaries within two contiguous counties.” That description fits Disney perfectly.
In the midst of a fight that began the previous year when Disney voiced opposition to a law sponsored by DeSantis that bans education on sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, Democrats have contended that the shift is politically driven.
“I just don’t think it makes sense for us to legislate in a manner that is punitive towards a private business,” Anna Eskamani, a Democrat representing Orlando, stated in the House.
On the other hand, Republicans cited concerns about public health and safety. In 2009, a deadly accident occurred on the EPCOT line of the monorail system, which resulted in the death of one operator. The accident included a collision between two trains.
“There was an incident in 2009 where a death occurred, but FDOT (the Department of Transportation) is looking at inspecting this so we know what issues do arise,” Bill sponsor Rep. Shane Abbott (R-Defuniak Springs) made the following statement. The significance of this lies in the fact that “right now, we don’t know what we don’t know.”
Government-owned fixed-guideway systems and privately-owned systems that get full or partial funding from the state are already required to meet Department of Transportation safety requirements.
Because of an exemption from the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Disney and other major theme parks undertake their own safety inspections.
Except for parks and facilities with more than one thousand employees and permanent inspectors, the government conducts routine inspections of rides at amusement parks.
An annual on-site review and periodic compliance report every three years would be mandated under this measure.
Two new lawsuits pit the state of Florida against Walt Disney World, and both stem from DeSantis’ and legislators’ decision to change the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which had been in place since the 1960s and had granted Disney extensive autonomy.
This year, DeSantis filled up the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District’s board with appointees. Prior to the election of the current board, the previous Reedy Creek board had already signed off on development agreements with Disney.
The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District has filed a lawsuit in the Orange County circuit court this week to have those contracts declared invalid.
Following Disney’s filing of a federal lawsuit against DeSantis and other state officials in Tallahassee last week, the latter was forced to back down from their support for the contentious 2022 education law.
Disney claims in its complaint that the retribution puts the business at risk.“business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region and violates its constitutional rights.”
The agreements made by the previous Reedy Creek board may be null and void if a different measure (SB 1604) is passed this week. The Senate is currently considering the legislation after it passed the House on Wednesday.
If the measure passes, special districts will not be able to honor development agreements signed during the last three months before new laws take effect that alter the process by which board members are chosen in such jurisdictions.
In addition, the law provides for a four-month review period for newly elected boards to consider whether or not to re-adopt previously approved development agreements.