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Bill To Give Firefighters Cancer Treatment Makes Its Way To Governor's Desk

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A bill that provides benefits to firefighters diagnosed with cancer is heading to Governor Ron DeSantis’s desk. It was met with some opposition.

The bill would give firefighters treatment coverage, as well as a payment of $25,000 upon diagnosis. But the Florida League of Cities expressed opposition in a letter Monday calling the move a “significant unfunded mandate.”

Chief Financial Officer and state Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis denounced the League’s position after a press conference Thursday.

“My question to them is, why do we need to question providing a cancer benefit for somebody who is sacrificing their life twenty-four seven, three sixty-five for your family?" Patronis said. "I think they’re pretty selfish in their efforts and their messaging.”

The League of Cities pointed out the bill requires local governments to fund the added cancer coverage. But many Florida cities are still recovering from financial losses caused by Hurricane Michael.

Patronis argues there is plenty of funding for hurricane recovery. He cited a recent donation of $50,000 from Keiser University.

“As we see dollars pour in, we see dollars anticipated from the federal government, I hear their concerns, but this is going to have support and needs coming from all different directions," Patronis said.

The Florida League of Cities did not return calls for comment.

Patronis also says the legislation will help Florida communities in the long run.

“As I look at our communities, our first responders are critical to good schools, economic development, prosperity," Patronis said. "You can’t have any of that if you don’t have a robust safety net there. And if you don’t make a profession that’s attractive for folks to go into, we’ll have trouble recruiting individuals that want to make that kind of selfless service back to our communities.”

The bill passed unanimously in both the House and the Senate.

Casey Chapter is a graduate student at Florida State University studying Public Interest Media & Communication. She got her start in journalism at the FSView & Florida Flambeau, where she served as a reporter, News Editor, and eventually Managing Editor. She has previously reported on COVID-19 and K-12 education for the Tallahassee Democrat, and currently serves as the Managing Editor of the Florida Student News Watch, a journalism program that aims to get students and recent graduates' work published with a focus on environmental reporting.