Florida is planning broader steps in its fight against assets managers that offer environmental, social and governance investments, including sweeping legislation and pulling more state funds from BlackRock Inc., the state’s chief financial officer said.

Lawmakers will put forward new legislation next year that will require investments to be guided only on potential returns, and will steer the state away from doing business with banks that make lending choices on anything more than customers’ ability to repay loans, Jimmy Patronis and state Representative Bob Rommel said in interviews Wednesday in Tallahassee, Florida. 

The strategy is part of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’s so-called “anti-woke” agenda, a key piece in his possible 2024 presidential run after securing re-election by a landslide last month. In early December, Florida said it’s pulling about $2 billion from BlackRock in the largest anti-ESG withdrawal announced by a U.S. state. BlackRock Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink has been singled out because of his 2020 letter to CEOs, in which he outlined a vision for “stakeholder capitalism.”  

“When Larry Fink goes and throws out this manifesto out there, he’s getting my attention,” Patronis said. “When you’re so outspoken on that type of a social agenda you’re gonna draw some fire. He really did it to himself,” Patronis said.

A BlackRock spokesperson declined to comment. Fink said in his 2022 annual letter that stakeholder capitalism “is not about politics. It is not a social or ideological agenda. It is not ‘woke’.”

Back in July, DeSantis called on legislators to prohibit the state’s investment arm, the State Board of Administration, or SBA, from considering ESG factors when investing the state’s money as well as broader laws to ban banks from discriminating against customers for their religious, political or social beliefs. 

Last week, Patronis asked Florida’s State Board of Administration, which invests for the Florida Retirement System Pension Plan and more than 25 other state funds, to remove BlackRock as one of its asset managers and a decision could be made on the SBA’s meeting January, he said Wednesday. BlackRock manages about $13 billion for the SBA.

“Everything is on the table,” Patronis said, adding that Florida’s lawmakers have telegraphed to him that they’re “going to propose sweeping ESG policy legislation.”

Rommel, the chairman of the house commerce committee, said the GOP-controlled legislature is in lockstep with the governor and will turn his anti-ESG proposals into law early next year. 

“I don’t believe these decisions should be based on someone’s moral compass,” Rommel said. 

Florida is among a string of GOP-dominated governments that are lashing out against New York-based BlackRock for pursuing a “climate agenda,” at odds, they allege, with generating returns for state pensions. Louisiana and Missouri have also pulled money from the asset manager, while 19 attorneys general from states such as Arizona, Kentucky and West Virginia have openly criticized it.

Idaho and North Dakota are among the first states to enact laws that restrict using financial firms who use ESG factors in their analysis. A number of states are set to introduce legislation when sessions start in the new year.

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