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DeSantis unveils plans to fight ‘woke’ economics

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Gov. Ron DeSantis promised to back a series of legislative proposals intended to protect Floridians and Florida-based institutions from being blacklisted by pension management firms and other financial entities on the basis of their political, religious, or social views.

“What you’ve seen is a rise in something called ESG – environmental, social and corporate governance where they (some financial institutions) will grade different companies based on how they are performing on (woke) metrics,” DeSantis said during a July 27 press conference in Tampa. “You’ve also seen different institutions effectively collude to disfavor some companies so that they don’t get financing from banks, and you’ve seen asset managers who manage the pension funds say things like they are going to do ‘Stakeholder capitalism’ which is taking all these political factors and injecting them into the financial system.”

Also, according to DeSantis, those so-called ESG policies can also drive certain organizations to discriminate against individuals and organizations when they apply for credit or use money transmitters such as PayPal.

To oppose the ‘woke economy,’ DeSantis said that he would propose during the 2023 Legislative session a measure that would prohibit big banks, credit card companies, and money transmitters from discriminating against customers for their religious, political, or social beliefs.

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He also promised to propose legislation that would keep the State Board of Administration (SBA) fund managers from considering ESG factors when investing the state’s money, and require SBA fund managers to only consider maximizing the return on investment on behalf of Florida’s retirees.

Administratively, DeSantis said he will propose an update to the fiduciary duties of the State Board of Administration investment fund managers and investment advisors to clearly define the factors fiduciaries are to consider in investment decisions. Those considerations would exclude environmental, social, or corporate governance factors from the state of Florida’s investment management practices.

Finally, Governor DeSantis promised to work with like-minded states such as Texas, Tennessee, and Arizona to leverage the investment power of state pension funds through shareholder advocacy so that corporations are focused on maximizing shareholder value, rather than the proliferation of woke ideology.

“This (ESG economics) is an important issue because it raises the issue who governs society,” DeSantis said. “It’s one thing to make a lot of money, some of these folks really want to exercise power over the rest of us and I think it’s a power play, what we’re doing in Florida is taking a stand against that – we don’t want to see the economy politicized, and we want to push back against the politicization that has already happened.”

Florida’s regular legislative session begins on March 7 and continues through May 5.

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