Cookies 🍪

This site uses cookies that need consent.

Skip to content

N.H. legislators dismiss restrictive investment proposals amidst business concerns

N.H. legislators dismiss restrictive investment proposals amidst business concerns

February 21st, 2024

Media Release


Investors, trade groups, and other organizations today applaud New Hampshire lawmakers rejecting dangerous bills designed to prevent public institutions like the New Hampshire Retirement System from considering all risks as part of their investment strategies, threatening the retirement accounts of public employees and taxpayer funds. 

On Wednesday, the state Senate dismissed SB 520, following a vote earlier this month by the House of Representatives to dismiss HB 1267. Together, the two bills sought to restrict the New Hampshire pension fund and other state and local fiduciary officers from considering the environmental, social, or governmental threats facing companies in their decision-making, exposing them to significant financial risk, or from working with financial firms that make those considerations. 

The rejection of the two laws came after investors, trade groups, fiduciaries, and responsible investing groups – including Impax Asset Management, NH Businesses for Social Responsibility (NHBSR), NH Bankers Association, American Federation of Teachers - New Hampshire, and Taxpayers Protection Alliance – offered pointed feedback in legislative testimony in January, arguing the bills would cost pensioners and taxpayers. On Wednesday, they celebrated the votes against the laws. 

“The Live Free or Die state rightly encourages free market choices, and we are pleased that state lawmakers opted against undermining an investment professional’s freedom to invest,” said Ed Farrington, President, North America at Impax Asset Management. “Substituting the views of politicians for trained investment professionals could lead to sub-par investment results and, in our opinion, result in a clear breach of fiduciary duty. We encourage lawmakers across the country to follow this lead and ensure investors are free to consider all financial risks as they make investment decisions.” 

"Too often, acronyms become targets for partisan politics and the true value or meaning of their use gets lost in the rhetoric,” said Michelle Veasey, executive director, New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility. “ESG ratings should not be part of a political battlefield, but are instead a smart tool for investors to understand how companies are managing clear risks on important issues like protecting customer data and privacy, worker training, chemical safety, executive compensation, and more. We applaud the New Hampshire Senate and House for voting down these bills in recognition that investors should consider all the risks and opportunities that might be material to long-term financial success.” 

“Investors must consider all risks and opportunities to ensure their organizations remain profitable over the long term, and that they fulfill their fiduciary responsibility on behalf of their beneficiaries,” said Alli Gold Roberts, senior director of state policy, Ceres. “New Hampshire retirees and taxpayers should be proud that their lawmakers recognized that these bills would interfere with the ability of financial professionals to fulfill their fiduciary duties by maintaining their freedom to invest responsibly.” 

The two New Hampshire bills came amid a surge of state legislation pushed by special interests across the country, designed to interfere with investment professionals’ ability to freely assess risk and opportunity. In New Hampshire, the state treasurer and retirement office warned that the bills could reduce investment returns and conflict with existing state policy directing fiduciary officers to maximize financial benefits. HB 1267 was especially dangerous, threatening fiduciary officers with jailtime. House and Senate committees each unanimously voted not to recommend the two bills for full passage before they were rejected by their full chambers this month. 

Similar legislation in other states has proven to have negative ramifications for state and local finances and pension holders.  

  • The Indiana State Legislative Services Commission last year projected a $6.7 billion decrease to pension fund returns because of a bill that mandates Indiana’s public pension system to divest from firms or funds that consider ESG-related factors. 

  • Arkansas, Kansas, North Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming each also projected significant loss to pension returns from similar legislation.  

  • And in less than a year after a similar law passed in Texas, the state had burdened taxpayers with $303-$532 million in additional interest on bonds — a direct result of restrictions on which banks are allowed to finance public debt.