Students weigh in on November pot and pollution propositions

Oct. 5, 2010, 3:04 a.m.

Stanford voters will speak on an array of ballot propositions in the California midterm elections on Nov. 2, ranging from marijuana legalization to the suspension of air pollution standards to making it easier for the perpetually gridlocked state legislature to pass a budget — all measures that have the potential to impact Stanford constituencies.

The unusual coalitions forming both in support of and in opposition to these measures give new meaning to how politics makes strange bedfellows. The propositions getting the most attention are Prop. 19, the marijuana initiative, and Prop. 23, the measure that would suspend the greenhouse gas law (AB 32) until unemployment drops to 5.5 percent. This week offered a rundown of the major propositions and how local groups are lining up.

Prop. 19: Marijuana Legalization

The fastest miles this year appear to have been recorded by politicians running away from Prop. 19. Elected officials and candidates are shying away from associating their names with making pot available for recreational use.

Students weigh in on November pot and pollution propositions
ERIC KOFMAN/The Stanford Daily

Indeed, one of the few things that Steve Cooley and Kamala Harris — the respective Republican and Democratic candidates for attorney general — agree upon is opposition to Prop. 19. Both have signed a ballot statement warning that “Proposition 19 seriously compromises the safety of our communities, roadways, and workplaces.”

The Stanford Democrats held a meeting on Sunday at the Old Union Clubhouse and discussed fall activities and this measure.

“This proposition splits voters down the line,” said Mauricio Grande ’12. “It’s a good way to bring in extra revenue, but many other laws would have to be reconsidered, like what constitutes DUI.”

The California Democratic Party is remaining officially neutral on the measure. Although the Stanford Conservative Society, which is comprised of conservatives, moderates, Republicans and libertarians, has similarly declined to take a position, the California GOP has come out in opposition while the California Libertarian Party recommends a “yes” vote.

Prop. 23: Suspension of Greenhouse Gas Laws

Passage of Prop. 23 would suspend implementation of the pollution control law AB 32 until unemployment drops to 5.5 percent for a year. AB 32 requires that major emissions contributors submit reports of their emissions and reduce their levels. Prop. 23 is generating passionate reactions on the Stanford campus, as demonstrators came out on Sept. 24 at the Campus Drive Valero station to participate in a “Stop Texas Oil” protest against the measure.

“I absolutely cannot stand the proposition,” said Sarahi Constantine Padilla ’11. “We have a moral obligation to vote no. Climate change is such a huge issue that it overpowers everything.”

“Students for a Sustainable Stanford opposes Proposition 23 because the very idea of allowing outside corporate interests to suspend California’s landmark climate-change legislation simplistically conflates aggressive energy policies with harmful economic ones, while ignoring the truly critical issue of climate change,” said Hanni Hanson ’13, who is the co-leader of the climate change subgroup of Students for a Sustainable Stanford and is heading up the group’s “No on Prop. 23” campaign.

Republicans point to the measure as a temporary fix until California generates more jobs.

Regardless of political affiliation, students agree on the importance of casting a vote.

“I think it’s important that everyone has a voice in their community, especially Stanford students,” said John Haskell ’12, ASSU executive chief of staff.

In the spirit of greater voter engagement, the ASSU will be conducting a non-partisan drive to register voters across campus. The initiative, headed by Haskell, plans to go door-to-door in dorms to make sure both local and absentee voters can cast their vote. Voters may register in California until Oct. 18.

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