(VitalNews.org) – Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has proven his intentions time and again to protect his constituents’ freedoms. First, he took on the CDC and federal government mandates during the health crisis that swept the nation. He fought to keep businesses open, people working, and allow freedom of choice regarding medical issues.
Next, the GOP leader made sure parents had a say in their children’s educations, enacting the Florida Parental Rights in Education Bill and taking on an overbearing entertainment corporation to ensure the voice of the people held sway in his state. Starting in July 2022, DeSantis began leading the charge against major banking and investment interests to block what he described as a woke leftist social credit system aimed at circumventing elected government. On Monday, February 13, the governor announced a legislative proposal to protect Floridians from “a financial scam.”
What Is a Social Credit System?
In July 2022, Governor DeSantis claimed corporate powers from Wall Street banks to big tech companies and major asset managers were seeking to impose their ideological agendas on society through economic policies because they couldn’t push them through during elections. Instead, the Florida leader said they were using social criteria to determine what investments they would support. Specifically, they looked at environmental, social, and corporate governance criteria or ESG.
In August 2022, Desantis banned ESG considerations from state pension investments, telling trustees of the State Board of Administration they must make investment decisions solely based on the highest return for the state’s taxpayers and retirees.
Investors evaluating ESG criteria might consider
- Environmental criteria, including how a company’s products and processes impact the environment, carbon footprint, fuel use, pollution, or long-term consequences to wildlife or employee health
- Social considerations, including humanitarian practices, workforce integration, inclusivity, whether the company gives back to the communities where it has facilities, whether the company encourages employees to become active in those communities, and health and safety considerations
- Corporate governance, including stockholder transparency, board and leadership diversity, and accountability. Investors might also look for conflicts of interest among corporate leaders and consider any legal actions against the company.
Florida House Speaker Paul Renner (R) has characterized ESG as a big corporate attempt to “silence debate in the political process” and discriminate against those who don’t subscribe to progressive economic and ecological ideas. Renner, Desantis, and others believe fiduciaries who invest using ESG principles are cheating citizens because they aren’t maximizing the returns on their investments. Instead, investors are peripherally funding political issues they might not even support.
What Does the Measure Propose?
Legislation announced on February 13 would include the following protections by prohibiting financial institutions from
- Discriminating against customers based on political, religious, or social beliefs. That includes Second Amendment issues, voting rights, or energy generation and usage viewpoints.
- Evaluating “Social Credit Scores” in financial practices that could prevent Floridians from obtaining bank accounts, loans, or lines of credit.
- Holding state government funds as a Qualified Public Depository if they participate in corporate activism.
- Using ESG in any investment decisions at the state and local levels, ensuring that fund managers only consider financial factors to maximize the highest rate of return.
- Providing information about ESG as part of the procurement and contracting process to any state or local government agencies, including direct support organizations.
Additionally, the legislation would prohibit using ESG criteria when state or local governments issue bonds, including prohibitions on agencies rating bonds. Governor DeSantis also proposed amending Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices statute to prohibit discriminatory practices by financial institutions based on ESG metrics that arbitrarily relate to political affiliations, religious beliefs, and specific industry engagements.
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