ESG bills introduced in House State Affairs
by Logan Finney, Idaho Reports
The House State Affairs Committee introduced three bills Wednesday morning that seek to limit the influence of environmental, social and governance investment factors in Idaho.
The sponsor of the first two bills, Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R- Idaho Falls, credited Treasurer Julie Ellsworth, Idaho U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo and many fellow lawmakers for their contributions and work on the ESG package.
“I’ve never been involved in a process that involves so many people,” Ehardt noted.
House Bill 189 would prohibit public contracts with companies that boycott businesses because they engage in a particular industry sector, such as fossil fuels, firearms, timber, mining or nuclear energy.
That bill is similar to a 2021 law that forbids public contracts with companies that boycott the state of Israel. Under that law, and the ESG bill, public contracts must contain written verification the company is not engaged in such a boycott and will not engage in one for the duration of the contract.
House Bill 190 addresses banks and credit unions and would disqualify institutions from serving as depositories for state funds if they participate in the aforementioned industry sector boycotts.
“Our money is not going to be working against us in the state of Idaho,” Ehardt said. “It should be a privilege to work with us.”
House Bill 191, presented by Rep. Jason Monks, R-Meridian, would amend various contracting and public works statutes to specify that no bid or contract shall be accepted or denied based on ESG standards.
According to that bill, “environmental, social, and governance standards” means procurement standards that screen or score bids, in whole or in part, on subjective ethical or sustainability criteria unrelated to the specifications in a solicitation or the qualifications of a bidder.
All three ESG bills were introduced, and committee chairman Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, says he plans to hold public hearings for them on Monday or Tuesday next week.
The committee also introduced House Bill 188, a rewrite of the state’s unclaimed property law, which would apply the law to property not covered currently, like loyalty cards and virtual currencies, and reduce the time for property to be declared unclaimed from five years to three years. Crane said he would give lawmakers at least two weeks to look over the 47-page bill before holding a public hearing on it.
Bill approved to consolidate primary elections
The committee voted in favor of House Bill 138 from Rep. Dustin Manwaring, R-Pocatello, which would eliminate Idaho’s presidential primary date in March and combine it with the primary for state and local offices held in May.
Manwaring told the committee that the presidential nomination date was moved up in 2012 to allow political parties to conduct caucuses, but that the Republican and Democratic parties in Idaho switched back to primary elections in 2016 and 2020 respectively.
Secretary of State Phil McGrane testified in support of the bill. He told the committee that Idaho has spent about $5 million to conduct standalone March presidential primaries since 2012, and in that time has also seen turnout decrease about 10% for May statewide primaries.
The bill was sent to the House for a vote. It must also pass the Senate and governor to become law.