By Daniel Stefanski |
Arizona Republicans continue to take action to protect the financial interests and futures of their constituents – even though these current efforts face an uncertain fate with Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs’ veto stamp looming and already very active this legislative session.
Representative Steve Montenegro introduced HB 2472, which deals with a prohibition on the use of social credits. According to the overview provided by the Arizona House, this bill “asserts that the State may not require a bank to use a social credit score in determining whether to lend money.”
HB 2472 passed both the House Commerce and Rules Committees with 6-4 and 8-0 votes, respectively. This week, Montenegro’s bill made it to the floor of the Arizona House for an up-or-down vote. It passed 31-28, with one Democrat not voting.
In explaining her vote against this bill on the floor, Democrat Representative Athena Salman talked about the importance of financial institutions achieving and advancing the goal of gender equity.
One House Republican, Representative John Gillette, strongly disagreed with Salman’s viewpoint, tweeting, “We support equal opportunity, not equal outcome.”
The Republican Liberty Caucus of Arizona supported this bill throughout its House journey, stating, “The terms of a loan should be negotiated by a bank and the customer with minimal government interference. Once government colludes with banks to impose social credit scores, people will begin to lose their individual rights and the economy with suffer. Government will naturally use social credit scores to control people’s behavior, in the interest of government, not the individual. Private businesses will lose profits as they make business decisions not on market demands, but on deeply flawed ESG standards. We must reject government imposed social credit scores and ESG, and instead support free market policies. Only in a free market can we truly have freedom and prosperity.”
ESG (Environmental, social, and corporate governance) has been given heightened visibility in recent years as many Republicans around the country have identified this as a threat to their constituents’ financial futures and security. One of the leaders in this arena is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has made the fight against ESG one of the priorities of his administration. Prior to 2023, Arizona had two statewide officials, who were extremely active in fighting back against the ESG movement with former Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Treasurer Kimberly Yee.
However, the transition of power in the Arizona Attorney General’s Office halted Brnovich’s investigative efforts into this movement. Kris Mayes, Arizona’s new top prosecutor, stopped an ongoing investigation from her predecessor, saying, “corporations increasingly realize that investing in sustainability is both good for our country, our environment, and public health and good for their bottom lines. The state of Arizona is not going to stand in the way of corporations’ efforts to move in the right direction.”
But State Treasurer Kimberly Yee continues to be an active opponent of ESG. Her office took several positions and actions against ESG during her first term, including revising the Arizona State Treasurer’s Office Investment Policy Statement to ensure that the Office “investments are not subject to the subjective political whims of the ESG standards.” Yee stated, “This is about maintaining American free-market principles that our country was founded upon and not allowing environmental or social goals to dictate how taxpayer monies are managed.”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.