FirstFT: Florida passes bill to strip Disney of special tax status
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Florida lawmakers voted yesterday to revoke Walt Disney’s decades-old ability to govern the area around the Walt Disney World theme park in a move seen as retaliation for Republican state Governor Ron DeSantis’s criticism of the media company over its administration’s LGBTQ policies.
One of Florida’s largest employers, Disney has enjoyed in-state privileges since 1967 that have given it autonomy over water, roads, emergency services and permits on approximately 25,000 acres near the city of Orlando. It even had the ability to issue its own municipal bonds.
The dispute between Florida’s governor and one of the state’s largest corporations centers on a law that critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law.
The bill, which would ban Florida schools from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity with children nine and under, was met with opposition from LGBTQ Disney staff who called the principal General Bob Chapek to oppose it.
After a public relations crisis, Chapek, who took over from Bob Iger earlier this year, apologized to staff for not doing more to oppose the bill and suspended Disney political donations to DeSantis and other supporters of the bill.
DeSantis, who faces re-election this year and plans to run for the White House in 2024, has since denounced Disney as a “woke” company.
The bill will now go to DeSantis for final signing before being signed into law ending the Reedy Creek Improvement District, as Disney’s Special Tax District is known, by June 2023.
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The latest news from the war in Ukraine
Five other stories in the news
1. Elon Musk unveils $46.5 billion funding plan for Twitter bid The billionaire took on $25.5 billion in debt — including a $12.5 billion margin loan against his Tesla shares — from banks run by Morgan Stanley. It also said it would provide $21 billion in equity for what would be one of the largest leveraged buyouts in history.
2. Jay Powell signals that the Fed is ready to raise rates by half a point in May The chairman of the Federal Reserve has sent his strongest signal yet, that the US central bank is ready to raise interest rates by half a percentage point at its next meeting in May. Markets are forecasting three-half-point rate hikes for the next three policy meetings leading up to July and a 2.77% federal funds rate by the end of the year.
3. French prosecutors issue arrest warrant for Carlos Ghosn French prosecutors have issued an international arrest warrant for Carlos Ghosn and four people linked to an Omani car dealership. The warrants were issued against Ghosn, who was the architect of Renault’s alliance with Nissan, and the current owners and former executives of Suhail Bahwan Automobiles.
4. Rising US rates and slowing China hit the renminbi The Chinese renminbi is heading for its biggest weekly decline since before the pandemic as the country’s deteriorating economic outlook and rising US debt yields undermine the appeal of Chinese stocks. The pound fell to its weakest level since the end of 2020 today after the release of weak retail sales data.
5. UK is preparing legislation to give ministers power to tear up trade deal with Northern Ireland The UK government is preparing legislation that will give ministers sweeping powers to tear up the post-Brexit deal governing trade in Northern Ireland. This decision should arouse anger in Brussels and in European capitals. Sign up for the latest Brexit news in our weekly newsletter.
The coming days
Company income American Express is expected to release more information today on its decision to suspend business operations in Russia and Belarus when it releases first quarter results. Verizon Communications and oil services company Schlumberger also report earnings.
Economic data Retail spending in Canada is expected to have fallen 0.1% in February from the previous month. Preliminary estimates showed a 0.5% month-on-month decline, compared to a 3.2% rise in January, according to Trading Economics.
Digital Services Act The EU will unveil a new law to force big tech companies to control illegal content and keep users safe online. The Digital Services Act is the biggest overhaul of EU laws governing the world’s biggest tech companies in more than two decades.
Tours in New Delhi Boris Johnson will offer strengthening defense cooperation to Narendra Modi at talks in New Delhi today, in a bid to break India’s dependence on Russian weaponry. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will travel to New Delhi on Sunday amid concerns over India’s relations with Russia. More details in Europe Express.
French presidential election It’s the last day of campaigning for the French presidential election. Voters head to the polls on Sunday to decide whether to give President Emmanuel Macron a second five-year term or give the presidency to his far-right opponent Marine Le Pen. The latest polls suggest the incumbent will repeat their 2017 victory, but by a narrower margin.
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What else we read
Will women change the future of management? Office temperatures – usually set at levels that suit men – are a tiny reflection of a larger truth: women have left a minimal imprint on “official” management theory and practice. Are labor and business demographics due for an overhaul?
Few galleries are selling NFTs despite the hype According to online sales platform Artsy’s 2022 Gallery Insights report, only 11% of galleries sold NFTs in 2021, while 67% said their clients hadn’t even surveyed them. Of those who sold NFTs, half said the total value of their sales was $5,000 or less.
The fun way to predict the unexpected Games can help us predict future crises we didn’t know were possible, writes Tim Harford, from global pandemics to wars and how they play out. The games are also fun, which makes their lessons much easier to learn.
Global demographic trends create tough choices Wealthier countries that successfully welcome and integrate migrants will be able to alleviate many of the financial pressures of aging. Others will try to offer financial incentives to increase birth rates, even though they have little evidence of their effectiveness. A cultural shift to make life easier for parents, especially mothers, will also be needed, writes Chris Giles. This is the last in our series on how the pandemic has affected population growth.
Home & Home
‘No one is remotely real around the royal family,’ says Tina Brown, former editor of The New Yorker, as she discusses her new book on the British monarchy, her role as ‘transatlantic’ and his knowledge of everyone from Obama to Malala.
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