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Keep Special Interests out of Oklahoma’s Investment Policies

Oklahoma lawmakers and special interests are working to restrict investors and companies from considering all financial risks in decision-making. These policies will harm Oklahoma’s economy and citizens by exposing retirement beneficiaries to unnecessary risk, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, and placing unreasonable burdens on borrowers in the state. 

In 2022, Oklahoma lawmakers passed the Energy Discrimination Elimination Act. This far-reaching legislation aims to push pension funds to divest billions of dollars from asset managers placed on the blacklist, including BlackRock, Wells Fargo and Co., JPMorgan Chase and Co., State Street Corp. and Bank of America. The impact of this law could cost the state’s pensioners and taxpayers millions of dollars.  Fortunately, lawmakers included an exemption for pension funds and recently passed an exemption for cities. 

In 2024, state lawmakers are considering additional bills that will further harm the state economy, taxpayers, and pensioners.  

Why Does This Matter?  

Policies that restrict investing will cost Oklahoma taxpayers.  A recent analysis found that state taxpayers in six states — including Oklahoma — could be on the hook for up to $700 million in excess interest payments if restrictions on sustainable investing are passed and implemented.  

The Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System would have faced $9.7 million in taxes, fees and commission costs if policymakers did not exempt the pension fund from the Energy Discrimination Elimination Act of 2022.  

Cities are also at risk for financial loss from restrictions on responsible investing. The city of Stillwater would have faced $1.2 million in lost energy savings if the legislature had not approved an exception for cities from the 2022 law.  

Stillwater had lined up a low-interest $13.5 million loan from Bank of America for an energy efficiency upgrade project that was halted when the state treasurer published its list of financial institutions barred from doing business in the state.  

Thankfully this spurred lawmakers to take action to safeguard Oklahoma’s cities, but further action is needed to protect the freedom to invest in Oklahoma. Of the several pieces of legislation that could harm the state this year, HB 3541, which has already passed the House, gives the most cause for concern. HB 3541 would expand the Energy Discrimination Act of 2022 and further jeopardize the prosperity of state investments.

Tell your lawmaker to vote no on HB 3541. This bill has already passed the House. Fill out the form below and send a letter to your state senator.