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Legislator pledges he won't use law's favor on licensing

By SHELBY OPPEL

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 24, 2000


TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Jeb Bush on Friday signed a bill into law that includes a special favor to a retiring state senator, after the lawmaker promised Bush he wouldn't take advantage of the gift.

Sen. William "Doc" Myers, R-Hobe Sound, lost his medical license in 1998 for failure to renew it. In the last week of this year's legislative session, Myers' colleagues passed a bill that would allow him to practice medicine again without having to retake the exams required of ordinary Floridians in the same situation.

The provision was inserted into a bill that grants "fee holidays" to members of 14 professions and requires the state to make licensure exams in Spanish available at no cost.

In a written statement, Bush called the insertion of the Myers provision "repugnant to every notion of public service."

"Public service is a privilege, but that privilege is overreached when, without a rational basis, it is used to bestow special benefits or relief to those who serve," the statement said.

Myers, however, was "unaware" of the provision, Bush wrote. Since the session adjourned May 5, Myers contacted Bush "with assurances that he would not take advantage of this section." "While this does not undo what has been done, it does undo the improper effect of the provision," Bush wrote.

Myers could not be reached for comment Friday.

Myers, who uses a wheelchair and is in poor health, told the Times in May that his health prevents him from treating patients. With term limits forcing him from office, he hopes to get his license back in order to work as a medical administrator for an HMO. But the license he receives will allow him to practice any kind of medicine.

Myers, a legislator since 1978, contended that he never received any notification from the Department of Health that his license was about to be declared null and void because he failed to renew it.

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