RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A legislative subcommittee on Thursday rejected a proposal to allow the manufacture and sale of incandescent light bulbs within Virginia's borders after new federal energy standards take effect.
The House Commerce and Labor subcommittee tabled Del. Bob Marshall's bill on an unrecorded voice vote after a deputy state attorney general testified that the measure was unconstitutional. Marshall, R-Prince William, filed the legislation in response to the federal Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which includes a provision that critics have characterized as a ban on the traditional light bulb.
The federal law imposes energy-reduction standards that incandescent bulbs historically have not met, raising the prospect of consumers being steered toward more expensive compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs. The standards will be phased in starting with 100-watt bulbs in October, with lower-wattage bulbs to follow.
Marshall told the subcommittee that CFLs contain mercury, which can be a health hazard if a bulb breaks. He said Virginia has a right "on grounds of safety and public health" to facilitate continued access to incandescent bulbs within the state's borders.
But Deputy Attorney General Wes Russell said light bulb manufacturing is clearly a commercial activity that Congress can regulate under the Commerce Clause. He said the legislation would not survive a constitutional challenge.
Del. Barbara Comstock, R-McLean, said there has been "a public uprising" against the federal light bulb regulations.
"I've had many constituents write to me, but I don't think this is the way we can go about it," she said of Marshall's bill.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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