Republicans' Stall-and-Strangle Tactics | Editorial | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

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Republicans' Stall-and-Strangle Tactics


There aren't many issues that Democrats and Republicans can agree upon these days. It's one of the reasons that our two-party system is so often mired in indecision and partisan gridlock even as our state and our nation face challenges that are among the greatest in our collective history.

Still there are a few areas where members of the major parties can sometimes find consensus. Public safety measures and proclamations to support American troops are two that come to mind. And, of course, there's children's safety.

As a rule, we're usually more proactive with our children's health than we are with our own wellbeing as adults. Hence, it was for that reason that the country adopted seatbelt laws for children long before it made safety restraints mandatory for adults, who are presumably capable of making their own decisions and weighing the risks associated with those choices. That accounts for why many states, including our neighbors in Washington and California, have enacted a ban on children's bottles that contain the chemical compound bisphenol-A, better known as BPA.

This year, Oregon legislators made a run at passing our own BPA ban. That bill, however, is being quietly suffocated by House Republicans who are refusing to allow the bill the courtesy of a floor vote. It's understandable why GOP leaders wouldn't want to put themselves in the position of defending bisphenol-A.

Referred to as a synthetic estrogen by chemists, BPA is used a hardening agent in plastics, particularly the ubiquitous clear plastic water bottles. That's a problem because recent research has shown that exposure to BPA can lead to a host of ailments and other health complications, including early onset of diabetes, resistance to chemotherapy and neurological problems.

Children and unborn babies are most at risk of complications from exposure to BPA, the odds of which are enhanced when bottles are heated or washed with strong detergents. A study by the U.S. Center for Disease Control found at least trace amounts of BPA in the urine of more than 90 percent of Americans over age six. And while the Environmental Protection Agency has yet to ban BPA, the Food and Drug Administration no longer vouches for the safety of even low-level exposure to BPA.

Canada has already gone farther. Last year, it declared BPA a toxic substance and banned its sale. Thankfully, many of the major manufacturers of reusable plastic bottles - including Nalgene and Camelback for adults and Gerber, Avent and Evenflow, among others, for children - have already stopped using BPA. Even Wal-Mart has stopped carrying children's products containing it. Yet Oregon legislators have been unable to muster the political will to pass a ban on the sale of children's products containing BPA. While it's not exactly clear why the proposed ban, which passed the Oregon Senate as SB 695, has languished in the House Energy, Environment and Water Committee. It's well known that the bill has been blocked Republicans and is all but dead unless Portland Democrat Ben Cannon's attempt at a last-minute end run around the GOP's stall-and-kill tactic succeeds. For that to happen, Cannon will need at least one defector from Republican ranks in the evenly split House. We wish Cannon luck with his long-shot bid. In the meantime, we're giving all Republican lawmakers who put politics ahead of science and kids' safety an organically hardened Boot.

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