Arizona is one step closer to an incandescent future.
And perhaps some more unwanted attention from the national media.
The Senate on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to legislation which would allow the continued manufacture of incandescent light bulbs — the ones with those familiar tungsten filaments — after their production is banned in the rest of the country. With the House already having given its blessing, only a final roll-call vote sits between HB 2337 and the desk of Gov. Jan Brewer.
Sen. Frank Antenori, R-Tucson, said the issue is not just about what kind of light bulbs Arizonans get to buy and use. He said it’s bigger than that.
“It is a vehicle to establish the authority of the federal government under the Commerce Clause (of the U.S. Constitution) to regulate things that I consider not to be regulated by the federal government,” he said, but instead by states — and by individuals.
Put quite simply, Antenori wants the feds to butt out of things that are not their business.
Antenori said it’s not like he necessarily wanted to draw a line in the sand over light bulbs.
“It could have been a million other things,” he said. But Antenori said he chose this issue — and this product — because he believes it has the strongest chance of being considered a states’ rights matter and withstanding legal challenge.
Sen. Ken Cheuvront, D-Phoenix, said the bill and its timing are unfortunate.
It comes on the heels of Gov. Jan Brewer making Arizona the third state in the nation to let anyone carry a concealed weapon without a permit.
Since that time the House has voted to require presidential contenders to produce valid birth certificates. And the state has gained national attention with a package of new laws aimed at illegal immigration.
“We have been made the laughingstock of the country, if not the world,” Cheuvront said. “Do we need another bill that really is not going to accomplish anything except for putting us on the Jon Stewart (Daily) Show?”
Antenori wasn’t laughing.
“This is about protecting the sovereignty of our state and the citizens we represent,” he said. Antenori said it should be up to consumers to decide what kind of bulbs they want to buy, not some mandate by Washington declaring a particular type of technology to be out of date.
Technically speaking, nothing in the 1997 law prohibits the manufacture of incandescent light bulbs. Instead, it sets efficiency standards for light bulbs sold beginning in 2014.
But Antenori said even if the goal is energy efficiency and reducing foreign oil imports, that still doesn’t make it a matter of national concern.
“What they’re doing by default, by setting those standards, is mandating the obsolescence of something,” he said.
“The free market has always decided what’s obsolete,” Antenori said. “And the light bulb will too,” he predicted — when consumers decide on their own they want something different.