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Pasco Co. firefighters say commissioners aren't honoring cancer legislation

Pasco County filed a motion challenging the constitutionality of the Cancer Presumption Bill.

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Pasco County firefighters are fighting for one of their own, after they say the county commissioners are refusing to honor a cash payout to a firefighter diagnosed with cancer. 

Under the 2021 law, firefighters receive a $25,000 cash payout upon their cancer diagnosis, however there is a list of exemptions, and that is the basis of the county's motion. 

Firefighters in Pasco County say veteran firefighter William Hammond was diagnosed with an invasive form of skin cancer and is entitled to the cash payout.

“These cancers were thoroughly researched they are clearly defined and for Pasco County to state that determine basic skin cancer is unconstitutionally vague is absurd," the IAFF Local 4420 District 3 Representative Dixon Phillips said.

At first, it seemed as if the show of support might have swayed the commissioners.

“Lets settle this thing, let’s settle this, let’s pay the man and get on with this,” Vice Chairman Jack Mariano initially said.

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But after a recess, and discussions with the county attorney, there was a change of tune, and the county maintained Hammond's diagnosis doesn’t fit the bill.

 “Basal cancer is non-invasive, it’s on the skin, they freeze it when they take it off,” Mariano said.

But firefighters say that’s not quite true.

Commissioner Mariano stated up there that [Hammond] was diagnosed with basal cancer is not fully correct. He was diagnosed with basal skin cancer that is invasive, therefore it is covered under the bill," Phillips said.

Commissioners say they plan to have a litigation meeting about the situation at a later date. 

Pasco County fire says this fight is not over.

“We’ll see them in court and we’ll see them at the polls,” Phillips said.

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