by DIANE HARDY
We are seeing much hype on the recent unanimous passage of South Carolina’s first “anti-ESG” bill (H.3690) in the Senate – which will now head to the governor’s desk for signing. While we are grateful for the increased awareness on this issue, the Mom and Pop Alliance of S.C. believes it is way too early to celebrate – and we should definitely not put this issue behind us.
While H.3690 will help the Palmetto State reclaim the proxy votes from our state’s retirement account funds (which are invested in BlackRock and other large investment firms), it unfortunately does not remove our retirement funds out of BlackRock, and does nothing to protect our state’s businesses from the impact of ESGs.
If you have followed the work of the Mom and Pop Alliance over the past three years you know that we have been all in on protecting South Carolinians from the dangerous effects of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) scores, a form of social credit scoring which measures (and gives credit for implementing) a variety of ever-changing left leaning causes such as DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion), pro-trans initiatives, and climate change. The goal of ESGs is to ultimately kill free markets and usher in “stakeholder” (or collectivist) capitalism, creating a system where a few large companies give mandatory and ever-changing edicts to smaller suppliers and customers downstream from them.
Currently, the only way to pushback on this form of social engineering is at the state level, and we are grateful to our state treasurer Curtis Loftis for doing everything within his power to do just that. Still, we believe it is vital our state legislature make passage of good, substantive ESG legislation a priority. While it is true ESG’s are extremely complex – and writing good legislation to combat their insidiousness is a challenge – other states like Florida have done it. We believe a bill introduced in the Senate – S.583 – may be a place to start. We also would like to see leadership on this issue from our governor. Governors from nineteen other states have signed on to a multi-state alliance declaring their rejection of ESGs, but sadly, SC is not one of them.
This isn’t personal for us. If you have attended any of our presentations throughout the state, you know we express our appreciation for state level-office holders. We highlight how hard it is for those of us who haven’t served in our legislature to even imagine how difficult it is to travel to and from Columbia, and juggle family, careers, and constituents – all while trying to stay knowledgeable about hundreds of bills on a plethora of topics.
But we do worry that the agendas of large multi-national corporations and special interests, promoting electric vehicle and solar panel manufacturing, are having undue influence on the Palmetto State. We wonder if our state’s commitment to these green agenda items could possibly be related to the challenges we are seeing and possibly why South Carolina is not taking a harder stand against ESGs.
The Mom and Pop Alliance of South Carolina will continue to provide education to business owners, legislators, and citizens on this critical issue. We hope our governor will also send a clear signal and join the 19 other states that have signed on to the compact (or multi-state alliance) rejecting ESGs.
In addition to “big business” interests, we believe more input from small/ family businesses (given that there are over 430,000 of them in South Carolina) would help move us toward the balance needed in our state. The Alliance has requested a ten minute in-person meeting with governor Henry McMaster and are awaiting his response. We look forward to a positive and productive partnership in growing economic freedom in the Palmetto State. Hopefully, our legislature will realize that passage of H.3690 (which deals only with proxy voting for our state’s retirement account) is just the beginning of what is needed to help protect South Carolinians from the dangerous social credit scoring system that is ESG.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Diane Hardy is a former nurse anesthetist turned entrepreneur, who opened a franchise at Verdae in Greenville over seven years ago. She is executive director of the Mom and Pop Alliance of SC, which she founded during Covid upon discovering South Carolina’s almost 400,000 small businesses had little representation in our State House. The Alliance provides education, communication, and advocacy for SC’s family-owned businesses. Her passion for South Carolina’s small business is strong, and as such she donates her time to the organization, accepting no salary or government funding. Her love for our state isn’t new. Before launching the Mom and Pop Alliance she was the founder and host of The Palmetto Panel (2014-2019), an annual statewide conference highlighting issues impacting South Carolina. Diane has a bachelor’s degree in nursing and psychology from Michigan State as well as a master’s degree from MUSC.