On Thursday, after multiple hours of contentious deliberation on the Senate floor, the body approved an anti-environmental, social, and governance (ESG) bill on a 27-8 vote.
The bill, SB261, is sponsored by Sen. Dan Roberts, R-Mountain Brook. Roberts said the purpose of this bill was to protect businesses from “things that are going on nationally.”
The bill states that it will “prohibit governmental entities from entering into certain contracts with companies that boycott businesses because the business engages in certain sectors or does not meet certain environmental or corporate governance standards or does not facilitate certain activities.”
A business cannot boycott another company that does the following:
- Engages in the exploration, production, utilization, transportation, sale, or manufacturing of fossil fuel-based energy, timber, mining, or agriculture.
- Engages in, facilitates, or supports the manufacture, import, distribution, marketing or advertising, sale, or lawful use of firearms, ammunition, or component parts and accessories of firearms or ammunition.
- Does not meet, is not expected to meet, or does not commit to meet environmental standards or disclosure criteria, in particular to eliminate, reduce, offset, or disclose greenhouse gas emissions.
- Does not meet, is not expected to meet, or does not commit to meet corporate employment or board composition, compensation, or disclosure criteria.
- Does not facilitate, is not expected to facilitate, or does not commit to facilitate access to abortion or sex or gender change surgery, medications, treatment, or therapies.
- Does business with a company described by paragraphs a. through e.
Anti-ESG bills have cropped up across the nation as part of a Republican strategy to protect against “woke” policies targeting businesses. The movement is specifically against climate policies aimed at curbing the effects of climate change.
All of the Democratic senators voted against the legislation because they questioned the economic impact it may have long term. Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, called the legislation a “mandate” and a direct attack on the first amendment right of companies. Singleton stated that this was a “bad bill” and it demonstrated that Republicans were not as pro-business as they claimed.
“Is the intent to roll back businesses in Alabama because that’s what’s going to happen,” Singleton said. “You getting at the heart of DEI is that what you are trying to get to. What’s wrong with diversity and inclusion.
Following the bill’s approval, multiple high-ranking Republicans offered their support. Senate President Pro Tempore, Greg Reed, R-Jasper, stated this was a win that protects Alabama from liberal policies.
“I am proud to say that the anti-ESG legislation passed today is among the strongest in the country to fight the liberal policies that are influencing America,” Reed said. “With the passage of this bill, Alabama will continue to strive to be the best state to live, work, and do business.”
Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth stated the following in a tweet: “The Alabama Senate passed a bill today that requires governments to invest taxpayer dollars based on what brings the largest return on investment not crazy liberal social agendas based on woke policies. The anti-ESG bill ensures the interest of AL taxpayers are always protected.”
The bill moves to the House of Representatives.