Measure designed to protect 10th Amendment rights of S.C. citizens

(Seneca, SC) – Today, the S.C. House of Representatives passed a proposed state law that would give South Carolinians greater freedom of choice in the type of light bulbs they use.

The proposed state law, H.3735, would make incandescent bulbs available in S.C. even after the federal government begins phasing them out in 2012 in favor of compact florescent lamps (CFLs).

The bill has been sponsored by Rep. Bill Sandifer, Rep. Dwight Loftis, and several other House members. Sandifer and Loftis point out that their motivation in introducing the bill is not just light bulb preferences, but instead is protecting the 10th Amendment rights of South Carolina citizens. The 10th Amendment states that the federal government has power only over areas specifically given to it in the Constitution and that the rest of the rights belong to the states.

“It is my strong belief that the feds have overstepped the 10th Amendment and now are venturing into telling us what kind of lighting we can have in our homes and businesses,” Sandifer said. “This bill is about taking a stand against government intrusion in our everyday lives. I am championing this bill because I believe that we must fight for limited government, personal freedoms, and the free market.”

Loftis said he agrees that the federal light bulb ban is an infringement on the rights of South Carolinians and he also supports the bill is because of the environmental concerns with CFLs.

“All in all, I believe that light bulbs are an issue that the feds have no business regulating. It should be up to the consumers to decide for themselves,” Loftis said. “Also, the feds say we need to clean up the environment and then impose a law that basically forces us to use a type of light bulbs that are potentially unsafe. These light bulbs, which are laced with the toxic metal mercury, could potentially release hazardous materials back into the environment.” 

Sandifer adds that the Light Bulb Freedom Act has economic development implications. The bill would allow makers of traditional bulbs, through the Interstate Commerce Clause, to continue manufacturing and selling their products inside the state even after the federal ban. Sandifer notes that this move would keep the state’s one existing incandescent bulb manufacturer in business and potentially attract other light bulb manufacturers to South Carolina.

“The light blub bill is a step to protect jobs and the free market,” Sandifer explains. “At a time when South Carolina families need jobs, the federal light bulb ban will export jobs overseas to countries like China, which has gained the lion’s share of the market for CFLs. In fact, China is ecstatic over the new federal law. As Americans, why would we basically want to mandate use of a product that would send jobs overseas?” 

Sandifer believes that the technology behind light bulbs will continue to advance and that, in the future, we may see use of a different type of light altogether such as LEDs. 

“Energy savings is an important issue, but we also should find a solution that is a superior product and saves money,” Sandifer said. “Rather than adopting CFLs and abandoning incandescent bulbs, I believe we must support R&D and innovation that will result in a light bulb that’s good for the environment, good for the consumer, and can result in American jobs.”

 The Light Bulb Freedom Act now moves to the Senate where it will be debated in the coming weeks. Similar legislation is moving forward in three other states. At the federal level, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint is co-sponsoring a bill in Congress that would repeal the federal ban on incandescent bulbs.