Arkansas water providers would be able to opt out of providing cavity-fighting fluoride under a bill endorsed by a House panel.
The House Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor voted 11-5 on Tuesday to support the move despite pushback from the state Department of Health and the Arkansas Children's Hospital. Opponents told lawmakers that allowing providers to remove fluoride would cause more cavities and increase health care costs.
Republican Rep. Jack Ladyman of Jonesboro didn't debate the science, but says the bill is about local control. Other proponents say there are other ways for people to be exposed to fluoride, such as toothpaste.
Arkansas lawmakers in 2011 required water providers that service more than 5,000 residents to put fluoride in the water supply.