On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a proclamation, calling for a special session and expanding the special session to also include (a) legislation relating to independent special districts, and (b) legislation to amend Section 501.2041, Florida Statutes.
The governor’s proclamation takes aim at Walt Disney World, reforming the Reedy Creek Improvement District which gives Disney considerable freedom to run its property. Disney’s leadership recently criticized DeSantis for supporting the “Parental Rights in Education” bill.
DeSantis’ proclamation is below.
WHEREAS, the Florida Constitution of 1885 did not prohibit special laws granting privileges to private corporations; and
WHEREAS, the Florida Constitution was revised by the Florida electorate on November 5, 1968; and
WHEREAS, the Florida Constitution of 1968 generally disfavors special laws as opposed to general laws, but permits the creation of independent special districts that appropriately serve the public interest; and
WHEREAS, Article III, Section 11(a)(12) of the Florida Constitution of 1968 prohibits special laws granting privileges to private corporations; and
WHEREAS, independent special districts exist that were established prior to November 5, 1968, and that have not been re-established, ratified, or otherwise reconstituted by a special act or general law after November 5, 1968; and
WHEREAS, it is necessary to review such independent special districts to ensure that they are appropriately serving the public interest; and
WHEREAS, it is also necessary to consider whether such independent special districts should be subject to the special law requirements of the Florida Constitution of 1968; and
WHEREAS, it is further necessary to periodically review exceptions to generally applicable laws that are given to select corporations; and
WHEREAS, on May 24, 2021, Florida enacted the first-of-its-kind law to protect consumers from arbitrary censorship by social media platforms; and
WHEREAS, the law, Section 501.2041, Florida Statutes, exempts any company that owns and operates a theme park or entertainment complex from the definition of a “social media platform”; and
WHEREAS, on June 30, 2021, a federal court temporarily enjoined Section 501.2041, Florida Statutes, in part because such exemption would likely not survive under the First Amendment; and
WHEREAS, the federal court questioned whether it could sever the exemption for theme parks and entertainment complexes because the court concluded that (i) the Legislature was “apparently unwilling to subject favored Florida businesses to the statutes’ onerous regulatory burdens” and (ii) the court could not “impose these burdens on the statutorily excluded entities when the Legislature has not passed, and the Governor has not signed, a statute subjecting these entities to these requirements,” NetChoice, LLC v. Moody, 546 F. Supp. 3d 1082, 1094 (N.D. Fla. 2021); and
WHEREAS, Florida appealed this ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Case No. 21-12355; and
WHEREAS, oral argument before the Eleventh Circuit is scheduled to occur on April 28, 2022, and Florida must prevail in its position that a state can regulate the arbitrary and inconsistent censorship practices of social media platforms due to the platforms’ unprecedented power over the free flow of information and ideas; and
WHEREAS, the law’s exemption for theme parks and entertainment complexes is severable from and unnecessary to effectuate the law regulating social media platforms; and
WHEREAS, the Legislature should make clear that Florida intends to continue to protect consumers from the arbitrary and inconsistent censorship of social media platforms in a viewpoint-neutral manner; and
WHEREAS, I have called a Special Session commencing at 12:00 p.m., Tuesday, April 19, 2022, and extending no later than 11:59 p.m., Friday, April 22, 2022; and
WHEREAS, it is prudent to expand the call for this Special Session.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RON DESANTIS, Governor of the State of Florida, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by Article III, Section 3(c)(1) of the Florida Constitution, do hereby proclaim as follows:
Section 1. The call to the Legislature of the State of Florida for this Special Session is expanded for the sole purpose of considering (a) legislation relating to independent special districts, and (b) legislation to amend Section 501.2041, Florida Statutes.
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of Florida to be affixed to this Proclamation expanding the call to the Legislature in Special Session at the Capitol, this 19th day of April, 2022.
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