Lawmakers make last-minute push against fluoride
State Rep. Bob Ballinger and State Sen. Bryan King are not giving up their fight against fluoride, which is scheduled to be added to Eureka Springs' water supply beginning Wednesday, July 15.
King told the Lovely County Citizen that he met with Arkansas Department of Health officials last week regarding Delta Dental's business contracts and is writing ADH a letter asking the department to look more closely at Delta Dental's involvement in the push for fluoridation.
"We know that each legislative session, the fluoride mandate could be repealed. Currently, Delta Dental will pay for the equipment if water districts sign a contract that requires [districts] pay the money back if the districts quit fluoridating," he said. "I don't like that water districts are forced into this kind of deal when each legislative session, the mandate could be lifted. You have a law that forces people to pay for equipment on a 10-year deal and if we change the law, they still have to pay. It's like having a gun to your head."
King said he would like to know what the fair market price for fluoridation equipment is in comparison to what Delta Dental is requiring CBWD to pay back. He said he is also working with Madison County on a similar issue.
Despite the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' recent report recommending that fluoride amounts be lowered in the public's drinking water supply for the first time in a half-century, Arkansas cities and counties with more than 5,000 people are moving forward with plans to fluoridate the water supply, because of a 2011 state law that mandates them to do so.
King, R-Green Forest, said he backed a bill that gave local control back to cities and counties. The bill made it from the House to the Senate during the last legislative session but died in the Senate Public Health Committee.
Ballinger, R-Hindsville, said he has "visited with a couple of people and suggested seeking an injunction" to stop Carroll Boone Water District from inserting fluoride in the water supply.
"I have spoken with members of Secure Arkansas but have not heard anything about them moving forward with litigation yet," he said. "The injunction should be a friendly one against the water district and against the state from enforcing the Arkansas code that requires the implementation."
Ballinger and King, along with Eureka Springs aldermen Joyce Zeller, David Mitchell and Mickey Schneider, have been working hard in the fight to stop the fluoride from being added to Eureka Springs' water supply. Over the last six months, several citizens of Eureka Springs, including activist Laura Coker, have spoken against fluoridation at city council meetings and during meetings at local churches.
"The citizens have spoken. They do not want fluoride in their water and they should not be required to have it," Schneider said during one city council meeting.