- The Washington Times - Friday, June 24, 2011

Rick Perry is having a good month. With all eyes on his possible bid for the Republican presidential nomination, the Texas governor is showing that his anti-Washington rhetoric is more than just talk. By vetoing feel-good, nanny-state regulations and thwarting of federal intervention in his state, he’s demonstrating the kind of leadership America needs.

Beginning in January, Department of Energy bureaucrats will use regulations to strip incandescent lightbulbs from store shelves so that they will be replaced with expensive, inferior and toxic substitutes. This will happen everywhere in the country - except the Lone Star State, thanks to Mr. Perry’s June 17 signature on the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act. This law invokes the 10th Amendment right for Texas to regulate its intrastate commerce. Incandescent bulbs that bear the stamp “Made in Texas” and do not cross state lines will escape the federal grasp.

Other governors have been too timid to sign such laws. Although Arizona Gov. Janice K. Brewer earned GOP applause for standing strong on immigration against federal pressure, she folded when a bill preserving Edison’s great invention landed on her desk. Citing a lame excuse, she vetoed the measure.

Likewise, no other state executive has yet stood up to the outrageous conduct of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). On June 20, Mr. Perry issued a proclamation ordering a special session of the legislature to consider a bill “relating to prosecution and punishment for the offense of official oppression of persons seeking access to public buildings and transportation.” This move single-handedly rescued the effort to hold TSA agents criminally liable when they grope and fondle citizens without permission, probable cause or explicit legal authority granted by Congress. This red-hot issue has the Obama administration threatening to cut off air travel to and from the Lone Star State. It’s an obvious bluff, given the chaos that would result shutting down major hub cities like Houston and Dallas. The reality is that this law will force TSA to stop its disgusting abuse of innocent travelers.

The real measure of a leader is whether he can withstand the pressure of emotional sob stories cooked up by special interests. Such is the case with the push by bureaucrats and the insurance industry to create texting-while-driving tickets - which just happens to raise a lot of money for these groups. Mr. Perry didn’t buy it. “The keys to dissuading drivers of all ages from texting while driving are information and education,” he wrote in a veto statement. “I encourage individuals and organizations that testified in favor of the anti-texting language included in this bill to work with state and local leaders to educate the public of these dangers.” Distracted driving is already illegal; there’s no need for new laws.

This is an impressive display of political resolve over the past few weeks. Hopefully Mr. Perry’s colleagues around the country will start following his example.

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