Friday, February 25, 2005

Kudos, Rep. Denny McNamara

Posted by Craig Westover | 9:23 AM |  

A busy schedule this week, I am ashamed to say, has delayed proper kudos to my state representative (57B ) Denny McNamara.

As a constituent, I sent Denny an email late in the afternoon with my views on the effort to prohibit use vaccines that contain mercury from being administered in Minnesota (Senate File 639) unless there are exceptional circumstances, asking him to consider becoming a sponsor of the bill in the House. Motivation for the bill is a growing body of evidence that mercury in childhood vaccines is a cause of autism-like symptoms in a large and growing number of children.

I didn’t mince words.

I laid it on the line -- this would not be an easy bill to support. The medical establishment opposes it, state and federal health agencies oppose it. Supporters are demonized as fanatical parents that are anti-vaccination and are only looking for someone to blame for the unfortunate but random occurrence of autism in their children. And indeed, there are some who scream about conspiracy theories about the Bushes and the Quayles plotting to poison children for profit, which doesn’t help the bill’s credibility. Nonetheless, I told Denny, it’s the right thing to do, but I’d understand if he passed on it.

Denny did the right thing. He didn’t snow me with a lot of doubletalk. He wrote that he was actively supporting a number of bills, that this was outside his area of expertise, but he promised to look in to it. By the next day he had contacted the group supporting the bill and within a few days had contacted the group’s lobbyist, talked with other legislators and despite his schedule, signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill.

I do a lot of picking on the legislature on this site and in my column, and sometimes my criticism falls unfairly on those who do not deserve it. So let me go on record that in this case, I am extremely proud and grateful that my district has a representative that proved responsive, honest and in the end courageous enough to put his name to what will be a controversial bill -- because it is the right thing to do.

Thank you, Representative McNamara.