Whitman Commits on Prop 23 — Sort of

The mystery of whether Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman does or does not support Proposition 23 would appear to be solved. After weeks of steadfastly refusing to take a stand one way or the other on the ballot measure to freeze the state’s climate law known as AB 32, Whitman conceded on a radio broadcast that “In all likelihood I will vote ‘No’ on Prop 23.”

Whitman made the statement Wednesday during a confrontational interview on radio station KFI in Los Angeles. After several minutes of being hounded on immigration issues by hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou, the questioning switched abruptly to Prop 23. Whitman may have been worn down just enough to finally tip her hand.

Though she prefaced her remark by saying she had not made her “final decision” on the matter, if her position holds, it means that both she and her Democratic opponent, Jerry Brown, oppose the measure. Brown recently told an editorial board at The San Jose Mercury-News that the candidates’ respective positions on AB 32 and Prop 23 was “the defining difference” between the two contenders.

Though Whitman says she continues to support a one-year suspension, she also mentioned that under provisions of AB 32 itself, the Governor can suspend the law’s regulations for up to three years. Here’s what the law actually says under Part 7; Miscellaneous Provisions:

38599. (a)  In the event of extraordinary circumstances, catastrophic
events, or threat of significant economic harm, the Governor may adjust the applicable deadlines for individual regulations, or for the state in the aggregate, to the earliest feasible date after that deadline.
(b)  The adjustment period may not exceed one year unless the Governor makes an additional adjustment pursuant to subdivision (a).

On the KFI radio program, Whitman called that above provision a “safety valve” and, saying she wants to be “smart and green,” reaffirmed her intention to use this provision to suspend AB 32 for one year. Prop 23 would suspend the law until state unemployment drops nearly seven percentage points from its current rate of more than 12%.