EDITORIAL: Light-bulb rights showdown

States defy federal claim to meddle in fixture choice

Question of the Day

Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

View results

State lawmakers are fed up with the federal government micromanaging their lives. The South Carolina Senate is scheduled to strike back Tuesday with a bill that asserts the 10th Amendment right of the state to tell Washington to take a hike when it comes to the sale of incandescent light bulbs manufactured within state borders.

Ever since then-President George W. Bush signed into law the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the clock has been ticking on Thomas Edison’s venerable incandescent. Unless Congress acts before Jan. 1, 2012, federal bureaucrats will begin their campaign to foist the mostly Chinese-made, compact fluorescent bulbs on a public that has shown no interest in buying them on the free market.

Palmetto State lawmakers aren’t interested in waiting for the feds to see the light. The “South Carolina Incandescent Light Bulb Freedom Act” declares any fixture that bears the stamp “Made in South Carolina” is a product of intrastate commerce and thus “is not subject to federal law or federal regulation.” State Rep. William E. Sandifer III, chairman of the South Carolina House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee, told The Washington Times that the measure he co-sponsored has a very good chance of becoming law. “I believe that it is improper for the federal government to tell us as citizens what light bulbs we can use to light our own private homes or businesses,” he explained. “I think the feds have overstepped our 10th Amendment constitutional rights as they’ve so often done under the Commerce Clause.”

Conservative lawmakers ultimately are looking to mount a Supreme Court challenge that would, they hope, roll back the expansive interpretation of interstate commerce that has allowed the federal government to meddle in our everyday affairs. “Are we to that point in this country where we have to get down to telling them what kind of lights they can have in their house?” asked Arizona state Sen. Frank R. Antenori, a Republican, who sponsored the first incandescent freedom bill in 2009. His measure made it all the way to the desk of fellow Republican Gov. Janice K. Brewer, who vetoed it saying, “There are no active tungsten mining or mineral processing facilities in Arizona.”

Not so, Mr. Antenori told The Washington Times. He checked with the Grand Canyon state’s mining commissioner who confirmed the state does have tungsten, but it isn’t processed because there’s no financial incentive to do so right now. South Carolina may make for a better test case because the American Light Bulb Mfg. Co. located in Mullins, S.C., already makes incandescents.

Ideally, Congress would pass the light-bulb freedom measure introduced by Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, which repeals the 2007 ban. Realistically, her measure would have a tough time getting past the veto pen of President Obama. That’s why states are looking at their own declarations of lighting freedom. It will only take one state’s defiance of federal overreach to break the system. Should Mr. Sandifer’s bill be the first enacted, there is no doubt the South Carolina will see a substantial increase in tourism next year - as drivers fill the trunks of their cars with mercury-free bulbs.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks
You Might Also Like
  • Maureen McDonnell looks on as her husband, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, made a statement on Tuesday after the couple was indicted on corruption charges. (associated press)

    PRUDEN: Where have the big-time grifters gone?

  • This photo taken Jan. 9, 2014,  shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gesturing as he answers a question during a news conference  at the Statehouse in Trenton.  Christie will propose extending the public school calendar and lengthening the school day in a speech he hopes will help him rebound from an apparent political payback scheme orchestrated by key aides. The early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will make a case Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014, that children who spend more time in school graduate better prepared academically, according to excerpts of his State of the State address obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    BRUCE: Bombastic arrogance or humble determination? Chris Christie’s choice

  • ** FILE ** Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    PRUDEN: The question to haunt the West

  • Get Breaking Alerts