Campaign to Suspend AB 32 Unlikely to Go Anywhere

Last Monday, the Wall Street Journal editorialized in favor of both a bill and a newly filed ballot initiative to suspend the implementation of California’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions legislation, AB 32, until the state’s unemployment rate falls from it’s current 12+ % to under 5.5% for four consecutive quarters.   On the same day the fate of the bill became clear as the Assembly Natural Resources Committee voted to reject the legislation.

The next step in the campaign to forestall AB 32’s implementation will be an attempt by sponsors of the ballot initiatve to gather enough signatures to get it on the November, 2010 ballot.  The big question, then, is whether they’ll succeed.  The answer depends largely on whether there’s any money backing the initiative.  So far, the efforts are being led by two Northern California Republican politicians,  Congressman Tom McClintock (R-Rocklin), and Assmblyman Dan Logue (R-Marysville), along with People’s Advocate, a Sacramento based group run by Ted Costa, a former aide to Paul Gann, who helped spearhead California’s property tax limits in the 1970s.  There’s no evidence of any significant financial backing, though Republican gubenatorial candidate Meg Whitman, the former Ebay CEO, supports suspending AB 32’s implementation.   Signature gathering to qualify ballot initiatives has become an expensive enterprise, costing about $1.5 million.

Though many business interests are obviously wary of AB 32 implementation, it’s hard to see them aligning themselves with the right wing of the state Republican party.  In my view they’re more likely to fight AB 32 battles at the administrative level and in the courts.  So my best bet at this stage is that the ballot iniative never qualifies.

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