"The federal government is attempting to control the decisions of consumers and the South Carolina House is saying not so fast. The people have a right to decide what kind of light bulb they wish to buy. This is a first step, and we encourage other states to follow South Carolina's lead in protecting consumer choice."—ALG President Bill Wilson.
April 8, 2011, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government (ALG) President Bill Wilson today praised passage of a bill by South Carolina State Representatives Bill Sandifer and Dwight Loftis that would allow the manufacture and purchase of incandescent light bulbs in South Carolina that are subject to a federal ban that begins to take effect in Jan. 2012.
"The South Carolina House has taken the lead in protecting the rights of South Carolina consumers. Nobody wants the federal government telling them which light bulbs they are allowed to use," Wilson said.
The legislation passed 76-20 on Thursday and now goes to the State Senate for passage. "Now it's up to the Senate to do its job, because this is about more than just light bulbs. It is about the personal choice and liberty of individual citizens," Wilson said.
In a recent interview with Americans for Limited Government, bill sponsors Representatives Bill Sandifer and Dwight Loftis promoted the bill prior to passage:
"The basic concept of the bill is to allow the citizens of South Carolina to be able to continue to buy incandescent light bulbs," said State Representative Bill Sandifer, Chairman of the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee.
"It is my strong belief that the feds have overstepped the Tenth Amendment, and now are venturing into telling us what kinds of lighting we can have in our homes," Sandifer added.
But how can the federal government ban light bulbs? "They are trying to use again as they have so often done, the Commerce Clause. But I have a real problem with Big Brother intruding in how I live in my home," Sandifer declared.
Wilson explained, "Since the bulbs would be made entirely in South Carolina and sold in South Carolina, the federal government has no power to regulate it under the Interstate Commerce Clause."
Loftis blasted the federal ban on incandescent light bulbs, saying, "On the one hand, the feds say we need to do something about cleaning up the environment, and on the other hand, they impose requirements that we use this particular light bulb that has hazards with the disposal of it." The new fluorescent bulbs are laced with mercury, raising concerns over the costs of proper disposal and over mercury seepage back into the environment.
Loftis said that passage of the bill may depend on how environmental groups respond to it. "What side are they going to take?" Loftis asked. "Are they going to take the side of clean disposal? Or are they going to take the side of potentially putting some of the hazardous materials in the landfill or back out into the environment?"
Wilson said the issue came down to protecting the rights of consumers to be free to make their own choices, concluding, "The federal government is attempting to control the decisions of consumers and the South Carolina House is saying not so fast. The people have a right to decide what kind of light bulb they wish to buy. This is a first step, and we encourage other states to follow South Carolina's lead in protecting consumer choice."
The federal legislation effectively banning incandescent light bulbs, the "Energy Independence and Security Act," was enacted in 2007.