Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants the Legislature to restrict politically motivated banking and investment policies with taxpayer funds and protect Floridians from discrimination from the banking industry in the upcoming session.
DeSantis held a news conference in Naples Monday to discuss legislative proposals to address environmental, social and governance investment policies. While ESG was prohibited in investment decisions for the state's pension program through the State Board of Administration last year, DeSantis wants more restrictions.
New bills will be introduced during the regular session that are intended to safeguard Floridians from discrimination from large banks and financial institutions for their political, religious or social beliefs and ensure that fund managers invest solely on maximizing rates of return when investing taxpayer funds.
Under new bills that will be considered by the Legislature, banks will also be prohibited in Florida from using social credit scores when making banking and lending decisions. Monetary deposits from state and local governments will be prohibited with institutions that are pursuing the ESG agenda.
State and local governments would also be prohibited from considering, giving preference to or requesting information about ESG as part of the procurement and contracting process.
"We believe that this is an elite driven phenomenon, it is not ultimately going to be a road that is going to be good for this country and it's not going to be good for other industrialized countries." DeSantis said.
According to DeSantis, ESG is a way to inject political ideologies into investment decisions, corporate governance and the every day economy.
"That is not ultimately something that is going to work out well for us here in Florida, or in the United States of America." DeSantis said.
DeSantis noted that the average citizen does not want ESG, and that the ideas are coming from both within the U.S and internationally. DeSantis noted that most of these ideological governance programs come from places like the annual World Economic Forum meeting held in Davos, Switzerland.
"One of their big targets is energy production, they do not like us producing more oil and gas, they do not want us to be energy independent." DeSantis said, adding that it's a bad policy because it affects the amount that Floridians have to pay for energy to get to work and live.
"It affects our national security, when you have to go to foreign countries that are hostile to us to try to get energy, that is not a good place to be in." DeSantis said. "Why does that affect our national security? Well one of the major things facing our country that we need to do is recapture all the supply chains and bring them out of China."
DeSantis pointed out that during the COVID-19 lockdowns, most consumer goods were produced in China and noted that China is not an ally of the United States and that ESG gives China a competitive advantage.
Constraints on personal investments would also be part of adopting ESG policies and DeSantis said that people should be able to invest their money where they want – like oil and gas companies. DeSantis added shareholder funds were being used to fund these ideological policies.
"That is not an appropriate use of corporate power." DeSantis said.
DeSantis also said that banks were using procedures like social credit scores for companies, similar to what has been implemented under the Chinese Communist Party.
"That is not something that is acceptable here in the State of Florida." DeSantis said, adding that those who are being targeted the most, are those who do not follow the same ideology held by the "jet setters in Davos."
"They are not accountable to you, they are not accountable to us, and I think ultimately it does represent a threat, not just to a smooth and prosperous economy, but also our very freedom itself." DeSantis said.