Indiana lawmakers join ESG pushback

Members of the Indiana General Assembly’s House Financial Institutions Committee on February 2 passed a bill that would require the state to remove all pension funds from management by financial firms that support ESG or consider ESG criteria in investments:

“A House committee on Thursday approved a bill requiring the state’s public pension system to divest from and terminate business relationships with firms or funds that use non-financial ‘ESG’ factors in decisions, such boycotting gun manufacturers and fossil fuel companies.

The prohibition is part of a GOP effort to crack down on the environmental, social and governmental framework known as ESG investing.’

“‘These types of policies undermine the security that we seek,’ author Rep. Ethan Manning, R-Logansport, told the House Financial Institutions Committee on Thursday. ‘We need to focus our pension investments on financial factors and leave the politics and the social and ideological considerations out of it.’

“Proponents say House Bill 1008 ensures that managers investing on behalf of the Indiana Public Retirement System make returns-based decisions, and supports businesses in controversial industries who’ve found themselves cut off from financing, insurance and shipping options. …

INPRS uses external money managers to make investment decisions for its $45 billion-plus portfolio. A team of more than 20 INPRS employees then manage those investment managers.

The legislation turns scrutiny on them.

“It says portfolio company engagement, votes and other actions involving a range of topics could constitute furthering ESG interests. That includes disclosing, lowering or offsetting greenhouse gas emissions, looking at things like hiring practices and divesting from a list of protected industries.”

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