Bright Ideas?

Antenori goes to bat for the incandescent light bulb, and other updates from the Arizona Legislature

If you're among the Arizonans who are disturbed by the idea that you'll have to start using those newfangled compact-fluorescent light bulbs, Rep. Frank Antenori is working for you.

Antenori, a freshman Republican who represents Tucson's eastside, Green Valley and Sierra Vista, has sponsored HB 2337, which would allow companies to set up shop in Arizona to manufacture traditional incandescent light bulbs after 2012, when federal regulations will ban incandescent bulbs that range from 40 to 100 watts.

In testimony before the House Commerce Committee, Antenori explained that U.S. companies that make the light bulbs might move to Arizona if the bill passes.

Antenori told the committee that some female constituents have told him that the new bulbs cause migraine headaches. Other concerned Arizonans don't like the light provided by the new bulbs which meet the energy-efficiency standards of the Energy Independence and Security Act, which was signed into law by then-President George W. Bush in 2007.

But Antenori's real goal is to set up a showdown with the federal government over the limits of its powers under the U.S. Constitution's commerce clause. He says the feds have no business telling Arizona residents what kind of light bulbs to use.

"That's a bill gift-wrapped for someone like the Goldwater Institute to challenge the commerce clause," Antenori says. "It's just to say, 'Hey, the federal government needs to stick to the basics of what it was chartered to do in the Constitution, and not regulate light bulbs and flush toilets and health care and all that stuff.'"

The bill passed the House Commerce Committee on Feb. 10 on a 5-1 vote. Among those voting in favor: Rep. Olivia Cajero Bedford, a Democrat who represents Tucson's westside.

Cajero Bedford told committee members that she has found that the illumination from the new light bulbs "really disturbs the ambience of putting on makeup."

As she cast her "aye" vote, Cajero Bedford explained: "It comes down to aesthetics versus the environment, and speaking for women, I think there are going to be a lot of unhappy women with these light bulbs."

We've added several other new bills to the Blogislature, the online bill tracker set up at The Range, our daily dispatch:

HB 2148 puts married couples ahead of single persons and gay couples when it comes to legally adopting children in Arizona. The bill, sponsored by a crew of Republican lawmakers, passed the House Health and Human Services Committee on Feb. 3 and is under consideration by the full House.

HB 2770 would force any Arizona citizen receiving public benefits—such as state-subsidized health insurance through AHCCCS, daycare assistance or food stamps—to sign an affidavit swearing that they will not purchase alcohol or cigarettes, subscribe to premium cable channels such as HBO, or have cell-phone service if they also have a land line.

"I owe it to the taxpayers," says Antenori, who boasts that he's getting hundreds of e-mails in support of the legislation. "There are a lot of angry people out there."

While he normally opposes big-government intrusion into people's lives, Antenori says that people can avoid scrutiny if they simply don't apply for government benefits.

"There's a simple solution," he says. "Just say: 'I don't want the government sticking its nose in my business, so I'm not going to take any money from the government.' Then you don't have to worry about it."

Antenori doesn't expect the bill to pass this session. "It's a start," he says.

• HB 2276: Not to be outdone by Antenori, State Rep. David Stevens, a Republican from Sierra Vista, has sponsored legislation that would make the name of anyone who seeks state-subsidized health insurance a public record. The legislation would also put the names on a Web site for lawmakers to peruse, treating those who seek state-subsidized health insurance sort of like sex offenders, who are required to register for an online database.

HB 2276 passed the House Government Committee on Feb. 16.

• HCR 2046, also sponsored by Stevens, would allow state lawmakers to pick candidates for the U.S. Senate, rather than have voters decide nominees in partisan primaries. The bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

SCR 1002, sponsored by Sen. Jack Harper, would require state judges to be confirmed by the Arizona Senate. Under the current system, which former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor holds up as an example for the rest of the nation, potential justices are screened by an appointed committee and then appointed by the governor. Harper's legislation, which would require approval of voters in November, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 15.

Updates on the bills we've been tracking:

SB 1070, which is aimed at further uprooting illegal immigrants in Arizona, passed the Senate on Monday, Feb. 15, and is now under consideration in the House. The bill requires police officers and state employees to check the citizenship of anyone who they believe is in the country illegally, makes it a crime to pick up a day laborer who is in the country illegally, and allows citizens to sue government agencies they believe are being less than diligent in checking the citizenship of individuals who receive public benefits, among other provisions.

SB 1334, which would ban texting while driving, passed the Senate Natural Resources, Infrastructure and Public Debt Committee on Monday, Feb. 15, and is headed for the full Senate.

• HB 2650, which would lengthen the amount of time it takes to get a divorce from 60 days to six months and require courts to provide courses that explain alternatives to divorce, passed the House Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 10.

HB 2538, which would have blocked the use of state tax dollars on programs required by federal mandates "unless the federal mandate contains a report ... prescribing reasonable and logical arguments based on United States constitutional law that the federal mandate is function of the federal government and will pass a constitutional challenge if contested in a court of law," was killed in the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 17.

For more on these bills and others, visit The Range.

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