Sen. Paul G. Pinsky, a Prince George's County Democrat and former history teacher, fought hard for the bill during a half-hour of debate, telling fellow lawmakers that limiting vending machine use in schools would be in keeping with a growing national effort to curb obesity. That trend includes recent studies showing an alarming increase in obesity among America's youth and a McDonald's decision to phase out its super-size meals.
It was struck down in a 20-27 vote after a Charles County senator, on the telephone with a school superintendent who opposed the measure, argued that some school systems stood to lose lucrative vending contracts that fund athletic, music and technology programs.
"Do you really and truly think that this gets at the problem?" asked Democratic Sen. Thomas M. Middleton. "Kids come to school with 20-ounce Coca-Colas in their backpacks, and this bill does nothing to stop that."
"Obfuscation," Pinsky said later. "That ignores the health issues."
Pinsky, who has introduced similar measures before, said he will try again until he is successful.
"The first time on the floor with this, we got 17 votes, so now we're just four votes from making this law," he said.