Hobbs Vetoes Bill Protecting Arizonans From Discriminatory Ranking System

June 21, 2023

By Daniel Stefanski |

Another Arizona Republican-led effort to scale back the ESG movement in the state has been rejected by Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs.

On Monday, Senator Anthony Kern issued a press release, announcing that Governor Hobbs vetoed SB 1611, which he sponsored and which would have “countered the rapidly increasing use of environmental, social, or governance standards (ESG) scores to compel the business practices of private companies.”

In a statement, Kern expressed disappointment with the governor’s action, saying, “This bill would have ensured our state contracts do not push the goals of ESG in Arizona. If an organization supports ESG, we simply should not offer them a state contract. Tax dollars should not go to partisan organizations and organizations that implement politically driven policies. The Governor had the opportunity to put a stop to this clear form of discrimination, and instead, chose to support it.”

Senator Kern’s release elaborated on the purpose of his legislation and the importance of this proposal for the Grand Canyon State: “This bill specified a public entity may not implement an ESG policy as a condition of entering or renewing a contract with a company. ESG describes a set of standards imposed on companies to manipulate businesses and investors into compliance with Leftist political ideologies at the expense of free-market capitalism and investor returns. This system is similar to the concept of a credit score. If you don’t score high enough on their liberal meter, you could be rejected from doing business with these groups.”

Hobbs didn’t have much to say in her customary veto letter to Senate President Warren Petersen, writing, “I do not believe that tying the hands of the State’s procurement and investment professionals is in the best interests of the people of Arizona.”

After being introduced, SB 1611 was assigned to the Senate Government Committee, where it passed 4-3 – before clearing the full chamber 16-12 (with two members not voting). The legislation was transmitted to the House of Representatives and designated to the Government Committee, where it was approved with a 5-4 vote. The House then gave the green light for the bill 31-27 (with one member not voting and one seat vacant).

The governor’s veto of SB 1611 occurred on the same day she turned aside another, similar bill, which was SB 1500, sponsored by Senator Frank Carroll. That legislation would have “empowered (the) Arizona State Treasurer to eliminate ESG consideration from all state investments by requiring investments be made in the sole interest of the taxpayer.” Carroll pushed back in a statement this week, writing, “My interest is in protecting taxpayer dollars and protecting pensions. I sponsored this bill to get politics out of the pensions of public employees and public officials who have earned the right to financial stability after dedicating their lives to public service.”

Arizona Republicans and Democrats are unlikely to come together on the ESG issue as Hobbs has proven with her vetoes of bills from the legislature. Democrat Attorney General Kris Mayes has also taken her office in a different direction than that of her predecessor, stopping an ongoing investigation into the ESG movement soon after she took her post. Mayes said at the time, “The state of Arizona is not going to stand in the way of corporations’ efforts to move in the right direction.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

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