I voted ‘NO’ to a Violation of States’ Rights
By Scott Rigell
The Better Use of Light Bulbs (BULB) Act that was voted on yesterday afternoon presented a real dilemma not only for me, but for some other conservatives as well.
Here’s the issue I was faced with: the bill would repeal the ban on incandescent light bulbs – which is something I strongly support and want to see happen. But in studying it carefully, I concluded it also contained a flaw which made it unconstitutional. It went beyond a simple repeal when it prohibited any state or local entity from imposing standards that could be met by bulbs containing mercury. It was in reading that provision, a federal limitation on what kind of bulb that a state or locality could restrict, that my alarm bell went off. The paternalistic, power-centric culture of Congress had, to my surprise and great disappointment, burrowed its way into the bill.
As I see it, if the residents of, let’s just pick San Francisco, through their city council, decide they want to prohibit incandescent bulbs, they not only should have that right, they DO have that right. It is clearly articulated in the 10th Amendment to our Constitution.
This language restricting the rights of states and localities was not needed to accomplish the repeal and should not have been added. So an otherwise solid bill – one that fully aligns with my core values and mission while I have the privilege to serve the 2nd district - became one that I had to vote against.
In our relentless effort to contain and rollback an overly intrusive, hyper-active federal government, we must not unwittingly breach our Constitution. We must not be guilty of that which we so fiercely object to. We must be vigilant and fully consistent in returning power from Washington to the states and localities – to the People.
I mentioned that I was not the only conservative who struggled with this vote. Being strongly in favor of the repeal and knowing that many would misinterpret the vote as support for big government when just the opposite is true, it was not easy pushing the red “NO” button when I voted. I respect and appreciate those conservatives who voted with me and I respect and appreciate those conservatives who did not. My hope is that another bill that repeals the ban on incandescent light bulbs makes its way to the floor this year, one that is narrow in scope and is unquestionably constitutional.
On that bill you can mark me down as an enthusiastic “YES” vote.