Barring any curve balls – such as this year’s unanticipated tariffs on imports – 2019 should be less volatile for the lighting industry from a legislative and regulatory perspective.

By Linda Longo

Before you breathe a sigh of relief over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair regarding sales tax fairness, just know that the topic may not be over. According to the Tax Foundation, the ruling “gives little to no guidance on whether a more aggressive law would be constitutional. States will inevitably pass harsher versions of the law, so the courts would soon be confronted with those cases, necessitating guidance on where the line is.”

In short, it’s complicated. First of all, the five states that do not collect any sales tax – Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon – are therefore exempt from this ruling. Second, not every state has laws taxing internet sales like South Dakota has – but they might soon develop them.

“There is still fall-out from South Dakota v. Wayfair ruling,” notes Michael Weems, VP/Government Engagement for the American Lighting Association (ALA). “One of the questions is whether there will be federal legislation so that there’s not a patchwork of [individual] state regulations.” Since most states are adjourned for the year, Weems says there is unlikely to be any action taken before the start of 2019.

What Weems says we might see in the upcoming year are bills that tackle areas such as new efficiency standards or that are designed to strengthen the U.S.’s position as a global partner. Naturally, the results of the November Senate and Congressional elections will also have an impact.

New lamp regulations for General Service Lamps (GSL) took place as of January 1, 2018 under Titles 20 and 24 and those GSLs that were not listed previously will most likely be regulated in the future. Another upcoming change involves the verbiage of Title 24 labeling from “T24 compliant” to “Title 24, 2016, Part 6.”

In Canada, a harmonization process – on a regional and international level – remains underway in establishing lighting product standards as part of the country’s National Standards of Canada. While upcoming regulatory Amendments 15 & 16 do not involve lighting (Amendment 15 covers HVAC equipment, and Amendment 16 covers appliances and industrial equipment), there are ceiling fan airflow regulations proposed for Amendment 15 that may affect ceiling fan companies at the start of 2020, according to a report from CSA Group to the ALA’s annual Engineering Committee.

“We are planning for the year ahead, but have to be prepared for the unexpected,” Weems says. “If you had asked me one year ago to list the priorities for the ALA’s annual trip to Washington, D.C., tariffs would not have made the top five.”