A bill that would give local water providers control over water fluoridation failed to pass for a second time in an Arkansas Senate committee Wednesday.
House Bill 1355, sponsored by Rep. Jack Ladyman, R-Jonesboro, failed on a voice vote of the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee.
The bill received only three of the five needed votes two weeks ago when it failed for the first time in committee, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette previously reported.
Ladyman said he didn’t want to debate whether fluoride should be added to water, but that the decision should be made locally.
“This is a local control bill,” Ladyman said. “It is not a bill to support or oppose addition to fluoride in drinking water.”
Drew Toole, a dentist with the Arkansas State Dental Association, said the bill is about the science of fluoridating water and should be focused on children.
“The cost of fluoridating water is approximately 50 cents per person per year,” Toole said. “The average cost of a dental crown in Arkansas is approaching $1,000.”
Toole said the fluoride in water helps cut down on tooth decay in children.
Several residents spoke for the bill and said their local communities should be able to decide to fluoridate their own water supplies.
Luke Syverson, 16, of Greenbrier cited research that several other countries have banned fluoride in their water supplies.
“I think [the decision to fluoridate water] should default to local control and not be decided by the state legislature,” Syverson said.
Syverson, who volunteers for Americans for Prosperity in Arkansas, said he decided to speak for the bill because of his family’s interest in the subject.
See Thursday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full coverage.