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Gov. DeSantis signs a bill targeting "ESG" investments in Florida

ESG concept of environmental, social, and governance
The law, which takes effect July 1st, says money managers cannot base investment decisions on ESG standards.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed a bill that will prevent government investment strategies that consider “environmental, social and governance” standards, which Republicans have deemed “woke.”

The bill (HB 3) has been a priority of House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast. It expands on actions taken earlier by DeSantis and members of the state Cabinet to require investment decisions in the Florida Retirement System Defined Benefit Plan to prioritize the highest returns without consideration of the standards known as “ESG.”

Critics contend the proposal will cost the state money and hinder investment decision-making.

The law, which will take effect July 1, doesn’t stop fund managers from investing in companies that use such standards. But fund managers won’t be able to base investment decisions on issues such as climate change and social diversity.

Republicans across the country have criticized ESG as an “agenda-driven” effort against investments in fossil fuels, arms manufacturers and prisons.

Renner, who joined DeSantis at a bill-signing event Tuesday in Jacksonville, said the law stands up against “a far-left extreme agenda.” The bill also will prohibit financial institutions from doing such things as applying a “social credit score” when offering services. They won’t be able to deny or cancel services to people based on political opinions, affiliation or speech.

In December, state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced that Florida would pull $2 billion from BlackRock, the largest asset-management firm in the world, because of ESG practices.

Gina Jordan is the host of Morning Edition for WFSU News. Gina is a Tallahassee native and graduate of Florida State University. She spent 15 years working in news/talk and country radio in Orlando before becoming a reporter and All Things Considered host for WFSU in 2008. Follow Gina: @hearyourthought on Twitter. Click below for Gina's full bio.