Florida Governor DeSantis Signs Education and Financial Bills, Including Teacher’s Bill of Rights and Ban on ESG Investing

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a series of education-related bills on Tuesday, including a Teacher’s Bill of Rights that gives teachers more power to maintain discipline in the classroom and bans cell phones. The governor also highlighted his plans to approve over $1 billion in teacher pay increases when he tackles the state budget, a $252 million increase over the current level.[0] However, the signing of the bill that places additional restrictions on public-employee unions, including preventing dues from being deducted from workers’ paychecks, could potentially set the stage for a legal fight.[1]

The bill also prohibits the use of ESG factors by state and local governments when issuing bonds, including a contract prohibition on rating agencies whose ESG ratings negatively impact the issuer’s bond ratings.[2] It also prohibits banks that engage in corporate activism from holding public deposits as a Qualified Public Depository and blocks all state and local entities from considering, giving preference to, or requesting information about ESG as part of the procurement and contracting process.[3]

The law also establishes “a new playbook” for other states, including the group of 17 other Republican governors who signed onto an anti-ESG alliance led by Florida.[4] The biggest impact of the new law will be on state and local bond provisions, proxy voting, and reporting.[4]

In addition to the Teacher’s Bill of Rights, DeSantis signed bills related to reducing school board term limits from 12 to 8 years and paycheck protection for teachers when it comes to teacher union dues.[5] The Governor emphasized that the Teacher’s Bill of Rights will empower teachers to preserve safety and order in their classrooms.

The bill signed by DeSantis targets ESG investing, which involves applying environmental, social, and governmental criteria towards investments.[6] DeSantis claims that this process is a way for leftists to promote policies they could never win at the ballot box.[6] The bill prohibits state or local governments from placing pension funds or depositing money with financial institutions that discriminate against customers based on their political opinions, speech or affiliations, or their religious beliefs.[7] It also forbids the use of any “social credit score” based on politics, religion, gun ownership or participation in the gun business, participation in the fossil fuel industry, timber, mining, or agriculture, or opposition to illegal immigration or drug or human trafficking.[6]

However, the Sunrise Project concluded in January that banning ESG could hit states pursuing these policies with up to $708 million in combined added investment costs, including increases for Florida ranging from $97 million to $361 million.[6] The figures denote projections derived from an analysis conducted by the Wharton School of Business on the law against ESG in Texas.[6]

Critics of the bill that places additional restrictions on public-employee unions argue that it is unconstitutional and undemocratic. The bill takes away power from unions by ending the automatic deduction of dues from teachers’ paychecks.[8] However, supporters claim that it gives teachers the freedom to make their own personal choices in how they spend their hard-earned money.[1]

Overall, the new laws signed by Governor DeSantis are expected to have a significant impact on the education and financial sectors in Florida, and could set a precedent for other states to follow.

0. “A new law in Florida forces teachers who want to be in unions to pay dues through mail-in checks” Yahoo News, 9 May. 2023, https://news.yahoo.com/law-florida-forces-teachers-pay-190806421.html

1. “DeSantis signs bill restricting teacher, public sector unions” Tampa Bay Times, 9 May. 2023, https://www.tampabay.com/news/florida-politics/2023/05/09/desantis-signs-teacher-public-employee-union-bill-law

2. “Governor Signs Anti-ESG Legislation Declaring “ESG is DOA in Florida”” WQCS, 2 May. 2023, https://www.wqcs.org/wqcs-news/2023-05-02/desantis-signs-anti-esg-legislation-declaring-esg-is-doa-in-florida

3. “DeSantis signs ‘ESG’ ban in Jacksonville” WJCT NEWS, 2 May. 2023, https://news.wjct.org/2023-05-02/desantis-signs-esg-ban-jacksonville

4. “Florida’s new law makes ESG murkier” InvestmentNews, 3 May. 2023, https://www.investmentnews.com/floridas-new-law-makes-esg-murkier-237146

5. “Gov. DeSantis signs education related bills into law during Southwest Dade stop” CBS Miami, 9 May. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/miami/news/watch-gov-desantis-makes-stop-in-southwest-dade/

6. “DeSantis Continues Crusade Against Woke Policies” Patch, 3 May. 2023, https://patch.com/florida/miami/desantis-continues-crusade-against-woke-policies

7. “DeSantis signs bill targeting ‘discriminatory ESG’ in Florida” The Hill, 2 May. 2023, https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/3984507-desantis-signs-bill-targeting-discriminatory-esg-in-florida

8. “DeSantis touts ‘Teacher Bill of Rights’ as he signs 5 education bills Tuesday in Miami” WJXT News4JAX , 9 May. 2023, https://www.news4jax.com/news/politics/2023/05/09/gov-desantis-speaks-with-state-leaders-in-miami/

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