A measure that would have ended a two-year court battle and cleared the way for a small water provider to buck Salt Lake County’s fluoridation mandate hit a dam in the Legislature.
Rep. Sylvia Andersen, R-Sandy, sponsored HB116 to give the Holliday Water Co. the power to say yes or no to injecting fluoride into its water supply that services 15,000 residents in east-side Holladay.
The bill stalled last week on a 3-3 vote in committee.
Since the countywide vote in 2000 that approved fluoridating the water, Holliday’s 3,000 shareholders have twice voted it down internally, even though the small company purchased the required equipment.
In March 2006, Salt Lake County sued Holliday, seeking a court order to force the maverick business to comply.
That lawsuit remains unresolved in 3rd District Court.
“This is not about fluoride or fluorine,” Andersen told members of the Senate Government Operations Committee Friday. “This is about self-determination.”
Paul Ashton, Holliday Water’s attorney, said the company complies with safe drinking water regulations, but that a 1976 law would allow it freedom from fluoridation.
“To me, it’s a property rights issue and I don’t think the government should be involved in this at all – the people own this thing 100 percent,” said Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan.
Sen. Allen Christensen, a North Ogden Republican and pediatric dentist, labeled Andersen’s bill “an end-run by a water company to try to get around a court decision that’s ongoing.”
“Should we allow groups to opt out of a county-option sales tax? How about a school district split?” Christensen argued.
Holliday’s water co-mingles at times with Salt Lake City’s water supply, a connection that Ashton said the company “may have to cut off if we can’t get relief.”
If Andersen’s bill had advanced, Christensen said he would offer a punitive substitute that would levy a $5,000 per-day fine for noncom- pliance.
“Send this bill wherever you’d like – besides the Senate,” Christensen urged.