TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Today, Sierra Club Florida sent a letter to Senate President Kathleen Passidomo expressing the organization’s opposition to House Bill 3 on Government and Corporate Activism and its companion bill SB302. Targeting environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG), this legislation is Tallahassee’s latest attempt to undercut diversity and inclusion efforts in Florida, and together with 44 partners and businesses around the state, Sierra Club Florida urges legislators to take action against this bill.
While some politicians attempt to brand it as a new concept, ESG has been a longstanding business practice for over 20 years. From green energy initiatives, to employee recruitment, to organizational structuring, ESG accounts for the full scope of issues that factor into fiscal decision making, allowing companies to gain a clearer understanding of the investments that impact – and grow – their bottom line.
If passed, HB3 and SB302 would prohibit the state from making ESG considerations in its procurement and contracting processes, effectively directing Florida’s cities, counties, parks, and other government entities to make investment decisions solely on “pecuniary factors” and would ignore the long-term benefits ESG standards create for the state’s fiscal health. Among many other costly consequences, this flawed calculation would force Florida to boycott a large swath of the financial sector, exclude the state from the green bonds market, and jeopardize the retirement security of our teachers, law enforcement, firefighters, and other public servants. At a time when Floridians are already facing exorbitant insurance fees and insurers are fleeing the state in droves, HB3 and SB302 would also leave our communities vulnerable to natural disasters by restricting access to funds for crucial resiliency projects. Florida deserves more investment to combat the climate crisis, not less.
Bills similar to HB3 and SB302 in other states have failed due to high anticipated costs to taxpayers and reduced returns for retired public servants. In Indiana, the state’s analysis put the cost of a similar bill at $6.7 billion in lost returns. A recent study estimated that if Florida were to prevent local governments from raising money for resilience projects, the cost of debt could rise by as much $361 million.
Emily Gorman, Director of Sierra Club Florida said, “In an administration fueled almost entirely by buzzwords, it’s no surprise the governor and his supermajority would seize upon the phrase ‘environmental, social, and corporate governance’ as an opportunity for political gain. In reality, ESG is a proven business framework that creates returns for investments like Florida’s pension system, and this legislation is nothing more than a PR stunt that holds Florida’s environment, economy, and residents hostage to Ron DeSantis’ presidential ambitions. Sierra Club Florida and its partners condemn HB3 and SB302, and urge the Florida Legislature to vote against this dangerous bill.”
Luigi Guadarrama, Political Director of Sierra Club Florida said, “DeSantis likes to feel smart by throwing around ‘ESG,’ but let’s call these standards what they are: responsible. Forcing Florida’s retired teachers, law enforcement, firefighters, and other public servants foot the bill for DeSantis’ radical crusade is unacceptable. We deserve the freedom to make our own investment decisions and demand state and local governments invest our tax dollars responsibly. It’s imperative that our legislators protect Florida’s future, and vote NO on HB3 and SB302.”
To read the full letter, click here.
ABOUT SIERRA CLUB FLORIDA: Founded in 1892, the Sierra Club is the oldest and largest environmental advocacy organization in the nation. The Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club boasts over 240,000 members and supporters committed to exploring, enjoying, and protecting the wild places of the earth. To learn more about Sierra Club Florida, click here.