That flickering light of freedom down in Texas emanates from an incandescent light bulb.

Edison’s brilliant invention will soon go dark in the U.S., essentially prohibited by federal law. Beginning next year, the feds will force Americans to begin abandoning the old standard light bulbs in favor of compact florescent bulbs filled with mercury, or other more expensive lighting.

But not in Texas.

Last week, Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill that will allow for the intrastate manufacture and sale of incandescent light bulbs in the Lone Star State.

HB 2501 rests on the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, affirming that the authority to regulate intrastate commerce remains with the states.

The Legislature of the State of Texas declares that an incandescent light bulb manufactured in Texas, as described by Chapter 2004, Business & Commerce Code, as added by this Act, that remains within the borders of Texas:
(1) has not traveled in interstate commerce; and
(2) is not subject to federal law or federal regulation, under the authority of the United States Congress to regulate interstate commerce.

The bill enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support, passing 142-3 in the House and 31-0 in the Senate.

The law, which will go into effect Jan. 12, 2012, stipulates that the incandescent light bulbs made and sold in Texas must have “Made in Texas” clearly stamped on them.

Rep. George Lavender (R-Texarkana) authored the bill.

“The ‘new and improved’ compact fluorescent light bulbs don’t work as promised, are significantly more expensive, as are the LEDs, and have environmental and disposal problems due to the mercury they contain,” he said in a statement.

The federal regulations, rooted in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, don’t ban incandescent bulbs outright, but create tough new standards requiring efficiency increases beginning with 100 watt bulbs in 2012, and then phasing in requirements for other wattages over the next two years. Traditional bulbs simply don’t measure up. But there are bulbs excepted by the law, including three-way bulbs and specialty bulbs. Alternatives also exist, including the hated compact fluorescents and halogen bulbs (at about twice the cost).

But for many Americans, the issue isn’t about money, mercury or ugly curly-q lights. It has more to do with the freedom to choose and what they view as more intrusion into their lives by the federal government.

Texas Congressman Joe Barton (R) wants to repeal the 2007 act.

“People don’t want the government dictating the lighting they can use,” he said. “Traditional incandescent bulbs have been brightening the night since Thomas Edison created the first one in 1879. They are safe, cheap and reliable.”

But solutions don’t have to flow down from D.C. Even without a repeal of  federal law, Texans will have a choice, because state lawmakers asserted their rights to control intrastate commerce within the borders of their state.

“This is a victory for state sovereignty,” Tenth Amendment Center communications director Mike Maharrey said. “The federal government has no authority to determine what type of light bulbs Texans choose to manufacture and sell within their borders. More states should follow Texas’ lead, not just with lighting, but every product imaginable. It’s high time the states and the people took back the decision making power they rightfully possess.”

For information on other intrastate commerce legislation and to track bills, click here.

The 10th Amendment

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”



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