A state lawmaker wants to make sure Nebraska's attorney general doesn't get involved with enforcing a federal law aimed at making incandescent light bulbs more efficient and promoting the use of energy-efficient compact fluorescents.
Lincoln Sen. Tony Fulton introduced a bill (LB1164) Thursday that would preclude the attorney general from getting involved in enforcement of the Energy Independence and Security Act, which is allowed under the 2007 law.
The federal law will phase out incandescent lights as consumers now know them in favor of more energy-efficient bulbs, beginning this year with 100-watt bulbs. Come 2014, the new standards will apply to lower-wattage bulbs as well. There are exceptions, however, for incandescent bulbs that do not meet the standard, such as appliance, three-way or rough service bulbs.
But the compact fluorescent bulbs mandated under the Bush administration law have not been popular with many consumers, who say they are too expensive, put out a dim light and contain traces of mercury, among other things.
Fulton said his training as an engineer makes him interested in the new light bulb technology, but the federal government is overreaching with the law. He takes particular umbrage with language that would allow state attorneys general to enforce it.
"This is about what government should be able to do," Fulton said. "We're saying no. I would like to have said, 'Thou shall not be sending light bulb police into our homes,' but I can't do that. We are state senators. That's a federal law."
Some states are fighting the new law.
Texas recently passed a law saying that incandescent bulbs made and sold there are not subject to the federal law because their sale does not involve interstate commerce and, therefore, is not subject to federal regulation.
Incandescent bulbs generate light as electricity flows through a wire filament. But as much as 90 percent of the electricity is wasted as heat instead of light. The fluorescent bulbs burn much cooler. And while the fluorescent bulbs can cost as much as three times more than incandescents, they can last at least four times longer, according to the U.S. Energy Department.
Other bills introduced Thursday:
* The operators and sponsors of rodeos would not be subject to liability if a bull rider is injured or killed, under a bill (LB1122) by Sen. Russ Karpisek of Wilber. The measure says "the state and its citizens derive numerous economic and personal benefits from ... bucking bull activities. It is, therefore, the intent of the Legislature to encourage bucking bull activities by providing reasonable standards for those involved."
* Sen. Brenda Council of Omaha introduced a bill (LB1098) to repeal a roads-funding law passed last session. The 10-year roads plan, which was sponsored by Sen. Deb Fischer of Valentine, earmarks a quarter of one cent of the 5 1/2-cent state sales tax. Collection would start in 2013 and continue 20 years. It could bring in as much as $65 million annually and $1.3 billion over 20 years. Council and others have said they fear other programs will suffer if the money is diverted to roads.