PHOENIX -- Arizonans are not going to get a chance to continue to buy the bulbs that bathe their homes in warm incandescent light long after they're banned everywhere else.
Gov. Jan Brewer on Tuesday vetoed legislation that would have allowed the manufacture and sale of these traditional tungsten light bulbs despite a federal law that takes effect in 2014.
That law does not technically outlaw the bulbs which generate light by heating a filament. But they impose new efficiency standards for bulbs which effectively will make their production illegal.
Sen. Frank Antenori, R-Tucson, said the federal government has no right telling Arizonans how to light their homes. But he noted that Congress has argued and courts have agreed that the federal government can control items in interstate commerce.
His measure sought to get around that by created a special law for light bulbs that are manufactured in Arizona with raw materials from within the state.
He said that, at that point, federal officials would have no right to complain. And if they did -- something he admitted he was hoping for -- it would provide a great test case for how far Congress can go in regulating what people buy and sell.
Brewer, in her veto message, said she is sympathetic.
"The federal government continually infringes on the rights of States guaranteed in the United States Constitution and by overregulating the lives of everyday Americans," she wrote.
But Brewer said there's a better way to challenge the federal government: She already has signed into law a virtually identical measure to what Antenori proposed, but with the issue being Arizona-manufactured guns and not light bulbs.
The governor said that face-off with the federal government could come much quicker, and not only because the federal light bulb restrictions don't start until 2014. She said Arizona currently has no active tungsten mining or processing facilities.
Brewer may get her fight with the federal government on that gun bill.
In Montana, which adopted a similar law, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives already has sent a letter to firearms dealers warning them against selling guns without complying with federal laws. That, in turn, provoked a lawsuit by gun-rights advocates in that state asking a federal judge to block ATF from interfering.
Seven other states already have filed "friend of the court" briefs in that case, saying activities that occur totally within a state's borders are none of the business of the federal government.
Antenori said he's not particularly surprised or upset with the veto. He said Brewer's signature on the guns bill will provide an opportunity to challenge the scope of federal law.
And he noted the governor also got lawmakers to give her the right to join with other states in challenging the new federal health care law. The governor contends that is an unconstitutional infringement on the rights of individuals and the state.
Antenori said that, issues of states' rights aside, there were aesthetic reasons for his bill.
The first-term lawmaker said he voluntary uses compact fluorescents currently the only viable alternative to tungsten bulbs in most lamps in his house. But he said they make no sense in the bedroom, where the bluish glow makes it impossible for him to discern what color socks he is pulling out of the drawer.
The legislation drew fire from Sierra Club lobbyist Sandy Bahr. She said Congress was justified in setting efficiency standards for light bulbs, just as it sets them for appliances and cars.
"Incandescent light bulbs are very inefficient, give off a lot of heat," Bahr said, saying that is a particularly bad side effect in a place like Arizona.
Antenori also complained about the fact that the CFLs use mercury, making them an environmental hazard when they break. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has published a set of protocols for homeowners to follow if one happens to shatter.
Bahr, however, said companies are making alternatives with less mercury. And she said lightemitting diodes, now mostly popular in Christmas decorations and flashlights, hold out promise of one day being bright enough for everyday use.