Bill calls for bitter antifreeze

ATLANTA --- The House voted 141-23 Wednesday to pass House Bill 40, which would order that antifreeze be made to taste bitter as a way to prevent the poisoning of animals and children.


Rep. Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson, sponsored the bill and named it Chief's Law as a tribute to a Jefferson woman whose dog Chief was killed after eating meat tainted with antifreeze. The taste of radiator coolant is sweet, leading to 90,000 animals and 1,100 children ingesting it, according to health-advocacy groups.

Benton's bill would require an additive to make it bitter.

He has sponsored similar bills during the past two years, and each has passed the House overwhelmingly, only to die in the Senate. He pushed to get it through the House as early as possible this session so the Senate would have time to act before the 40 day-session ended.

He said Wednesday that he isn't sure why the bill snagged in the Senate in the past but that he will request a quick hearing after it is assigned to a Senate committee today.

"The Senate operates at its own speed," he said. "I thought it would have moved through last year. It sat in a committee for a month last year. Hopefully, it will move faster than that."

To give it a push, the Humane Society of the United States is holding a rally today at a church across the street from the Capitol with its members from around the state. After the 9 a.m. gathering, the members will seek meetings with individual legislators to ask for their vote.

"Anything you can do to help us out on it, I appreciate that," he said.