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Idaho lawmakers look to prohibit ‘ESG’ in state investments

March 16, 2022 GMT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Several pieces of legislation aimed at preventing Idaho government entities from investing in companies that choose environmental-friendly paths or follow particular social policies are moving through the Legislature.

The Senate State Affairs Committee on Wednesday sent to the full Senate a bill aimed at prohibiting investments in companies that make commitments to environmental, social, and corporate governance, known as ESG.

The House, meanwhile, is advancing a resolution that would task a committee with identifying such companies.

ESG is increasingly seen as an important way for corporations to tout responsible business credentials. But some Idaho lawmakers say they’re suspicious of companies that appeal to what’s known as sustainable investing.

Republican Sen. Steve Vick says the state should avoid investing in companies whose actions are “counter to the values of Idaho.”

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Opponents of the legislation said it could allow political beliefs to override sound investing. Democratic Sen. Grant Burgoyne questioned whether government entities would avoid investing in Idaho Power, which plans to cut coal from its power-generating portfolio by 2028.

Vick said he didn’t think it would because other factors could be considered.

The House resolution would require the Federalism Committee to draft legislation “that protects the State of Idaho and its citizens from the use of ESG standards.”