Dental Clinic Bill Gains Steam but Loses Chunk of State Money
A Senate bill that would improve access to public dental clinics in the state moved closer to final passage yesterday, but it no longer has the $6 million in state money that was originally in the legislation.
The bill was introduced before a 12-year-old homeless boy from Prince George's County died from a tooth infection that spread to his brain. Deamonte Driver never had regular dental care, in part because his mother could not find a dentist to treat children on Medicaid.
Lawmakers said that funding for the legislation, which would give grants to health-care centers providing dental care to the poor, had been complicated by the state's fiscal outlook.
Sen. Thomas M. Middleton (D-Calvert), the bill's sponsor, said that he met with Health Secretary John M. Colmers and that both agreed that "in the event that there is some money, that money will be targeted where there is the greatest need."
-- Ovetta Wiggins
Bill on Fake Body Parts Appears Dead
House lawmakers have effectively killed a bill to outlaw outsized plastic testicles that truckers dangle from the trailer hitches of their pickups.
The House Rules Committee, which takes up legislation filed after the February deadline, declined to act on the truck bill at a meeting last week. "It simply didn't come up for a vote," Chairman Hattie N. Harrison (D-Baltimore) said. Which is a nice way of saying the bill will be stuck in her committee forever.
Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr. (R-Allegany) said he proposed the bill as an expression of moral outrage at the giant fake anatomical parts on rural roadways in his Western Maryland district. First Amendment experts decried it, but Myers said his office received hundreds of e-mails and phone calls of support. The bill was heard around the world by way of the Internet and became a water-cooler conversation starter in Annapolis.
"I do think the bill completely took on a life of its own," Myers said yesterday. "We have movie ratings and V-chips, and I don't see why this doesn't fall into the same category."