Judge orders changes in ballot language for Proposition 23, which would suspend California’s greenhouse gas emissions law

Today, a judge ruled that the state must change the “title and summary” ballot language for Proposition 23, the oil-company-funded proposition that would suspend California’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions law AB 32.  (My colleague Ann Carlson wrote about this initiative campaign earlier this summer.)  Proposition 23 would render the law unenforceable until California’s unemployment rate goes down to 5.5% for at least a year.  (Last I heard, the unemployment rate was over 10%.)

Here’s the original Title and Summary prepared by Attorney General Jerry Brown.

And here’s the initiative language.

According to a blog post by Margot Roosevelt of the Los Angeles Times,

Language drafted by Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown referred to “major polluters,” which the judge changed to “sources of emissions.” The judge also narrowed the wording of the title from “suspends air pollution control laws” to “suspends implementation of air pollution control law (AB 32).” The Brown language had in the initiative summary that it would require the state to “abandon” the law, which the judge changed to “suspend.”

Roosevelt notes that “when it comes to voting on a slew of complex ballot initiatives, California voters can be swayed by the title and summary printed on their ballots — which is why the cases about language often end up in court.”

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Reader Comments

2 Replies to “Judge orders changes in ballot language for Proposition 23, which would suspend California’s greenhouse gas emissions law”

  1. desertrosso – thanks for the link. How strange. I can at least understand the argument that the word “polluter” is loaded (though, for what it’s worth, in Mass v EPA, the US Supreme Court has found that carbon dioxide is a “pollutant” under the federal Clean Air Act, and I’d think it would follow that it’s fair to call an emitter of CO2 a “polluter”). But Judge Frawley seems to be implying both that carbon dioxide emissions generally come out of facilities in some place other than smokestacks, and that this fact, if true, would make the word “polluters” inaccurate. The first of these is plain incorrect, and the second doesn’t make sense to me at all. I suppose it’s possible this quotation was taken out of context, though.

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About Sean

Sean B. Hecht is the Co-Executive Director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, Evan Frankel Professor of Policy and Practice, and Co-Director o…

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