South Carolina General Assembly
125th Session, 2023-2024
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Sponsors: Reps. Taylor, G.M. Smith, Thayer, Bradley, Hiott, Bannister, W. Newton, Sandifer, West, Davis, Erickson, J.E. Johnson, Jordan, Whitmire, Hixon, Elliott, Forrest, Wooten, Bustos, Willis, Yow, Carter, Hartnett, Moss, McCravy, B.J. Cox, Haddon, Burns, Chumley, Oremus, Hardee, Ligon, Long, Gilliam, Magnuson, Lawson, Nutt, Brewer, Guffey, Hager, Mitchell, Neese, Sessions, Vaughan, Robbins, Kilmartin, M.M. Smith and B. Newton
Document Path: LC-0146SA23.docx
Introduced in the House on January 12, 2023
Currently residing in the House
HISTORY OF LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS
|Date||Body||Action Description with journal page number|
|1/12/2023||House||Introduced and read first time (House Journal-page 338)|
|1/12/2023||House||Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry (House Journal-page 338)|
|1/18/2023||House||Member(s) request name added as sponsor: Robbins|
|1/19/2023||House||Member(s) request name added as sponsor: Kilmartin, M.M. Smith|
|3/8/2023||House||Member(s) request name added as sponsor: B. Newton, Hewitt|
View the latest legislative information at the website
VERSIONS OF THIS BILL
TO AMEND THE SOUTH CAROLINA CODE OF LAWS SO AS TO ENACT THE "ESG PENSION PROTECTION ACT"; BY AMENDING SECTION 9-16-10, RELATING TO RETIREMENT SYSTEM FUNDS DEFINITIONS SO AS TO ADD A DEFINITION OF "PECUNIARY FACTOR"; BY AMENDING SECTION 9-16-30, RELATING TO DELEGATION OF FUNCTIONS BY COMMISSION, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT PROXY VOTING DECISIONS MUST BE BASED ON PECUNIARY FACTORS; BY AMENDING SECTION 9-16-50, RELATING TO INVESTMENT AND MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS BY TRUSTEES, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT THE COMMISSION MAY ONLY CONSIDER PECUNIARY FACTORS IN MAKING CERTAIN INVESTMENT DECISIONS; BY AMENDING SECTION 9-16-320, RELATING TO ANNUAL INVESTMENT PLANS SO AS TO REQUIRE CERTAIN MEETINGS; BY AMENDING SECTION 9-16-330, RELATING TO STATEMENT OF ACTUARIAL ASSUMPTIONS AND INVESTMENT OBJECTIVES, SO AS TO REQUIRE CERTAIN CERTIFICATIONS; AND BY ADDING SECTION 9-16-110 SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT THE ATTORNEY GENERAL MAY BRING AN ACTION TO ENFORCE CERTAIN PROVISIONS.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. This act may be cited as the "ESG Pension Protection Act".
SECTION 2. Section 9-16-10 of the S.C. Code is amended by adding:
(10) "Pecuniary factor" means a factor that a prudent person in a like capacity would reasonably believe has a material effect or impact on the financial risk or return on an investment based on an appropriate investment horizon consistent with a retirement system's investment objectives and funding policy. The term excludes "nonpecuniary factors" which is any factor or consideration that is collateral to or not reasonably likely to effect or impact the financial risk and return of the investment and include, but are not limited to, the promotion, furtherance, or achievement of environmental, social, governance, or political goals, objectives, or outcomes.
SECTION 3. Section 9-16-30(G) of the S.C. Code is amended to read:
(G)(1) The commission shall cast shareholder proxy votes that are in keeping with its fiduciary duties that are consistent with the best interest of the trust fund, based on pecuniary factors, and most likely to maximize shareholder value over an appropriate investment horizon consistent with a retirement systems investment objectives and funding policy.
(2) To the extent that it is economically practicable, the commission must retain the authority to exercise shareholder proxy rights for shares that are owned directly or indirectly on behalf of a system. The commission may retain a proxy firm or advisory service to assist the commission in exercising shareholder proxy rights, but only if the proxy advisor commits to follow proxy guidelines that are consistent with the requirements of item (1).
(3) The commission may only delegate the exercise of shareholder proxy rights to an investment manager under one or more of the following conditions:
(a) the manager commits to vote in a manner consistent with item (1);
(b) the commission reasonably believes that the economic benefits of the manager's strategy will provide a superior outcome as compared to a strategy by which the commission retained proxy voting authority; or
(c) the allocation is necessary to avoid the concentration risk of assets with any one or more investment managers.
SECTION 4. Section 9-16-50 of the S.C. Code is amended to read:
Section 9-16-50. (A) In investing and managing assets of a retirement system pursuant to Section 9-16-40, the commission:
(1) shall consider among other circumstances:
(a) general economic conditions;
(b) the possible effect of inflation or deflation;
(c) the role that each investment or course of action plays within the overall portfolio of the retirement system;
(d) needs for liquidity, regularity of income, and preservation or appreciation of capital; and
(e) the adequacy of funding for the plan based on reasonable actuarial factors;
(2) shall diversify the investments of the retirement system unless the commission reasonably determines that, because of special circumstances, it is clearly prudent not to do so;
(3) shall make a reasonable effort to verify facts relevant to the investment and management of assets of a retirement system;
(4) may invest in any kind of property or type of investment consistent with this chapter and Section 9-1-1310;
(5) may consider benefits created by an investment in addition to investment return only if the commission determines that the investment providing these collateral benefits would be prudent even without the collateral benefitsshall only consider pecuniary factors in making an investment decision or when allocating capital to an investment strategy. The commission only may allocate capital to an investment strategy that prioritizes a nonpecuniary goal, objective, or outcome or considers nonpecuniary factors as part of the investment strategy, if the commission finds that a prudent person in a like capacity would reasonably believe that the investment strategy will provide a superior risk adjusted return as compared to similar type investment opportunities available at the time that do not pursue a nonpecuniary objective or consider nonpecuniary factors.
(B) The commission shall adopt a statement of investment objectives and policies for the retirement system. The statement must include the desired rate of return on assets overall, the desired rates of return and acceptable levels of risk for each asset class, asset-allocation goals, guidelines for the delegation of authority, an explicit statement requiring adherence to the requirements of item (A)(5), and information on the types of reports to be used to evaluate investment performance. At least annually, the commission shall review the statement and change or reaffirm it. The relevant portion of this statement may constitute parts of the annual investment plan required pursuant to Section 9-16-330.
SECTION 5. Section 9-16-320 of the S.C. Code is amended by adding:
(H) The commission shall meet no less than annually to review compliance with Section 9-16-30(G) regarding the exercise of shareholder proxy rights. The commission must review a report that summarizes the votes cast by or on the commission's behalf or at the commission's direction. The report must include a vote caption, the commission's vote, the recommendation of company management, and the recommendation of any proxy advisor retained by the commission. The report required by this subsection must be posted in a conspicuous location on the commission's website.
SECTION 6. Section 9-16-330 (A) and (B) of the S.C. Code is amended to read:
(A) The commission shall provide the chief executive officer and the chief investment officer with a statement of general investment objectives. The commission also shall provide the chief executive officer and the chief investment officer with a statement of actuarial assumptions developed by the system's actuary and approved by the board. The commission shall review the statement of general investment objectives annually for the purpose of affirming or changing it and advise the chief executive officer and the chief investment officer of its actions. The retirement system shall provide the commission, its chief executive officer and chief investment officer that data or other information needed to prepare the annual investment plan.
(B)(1) Notwithstanding Section 9-16-30(A), the commission's statement of general investment objectives may include a delegation to the chief investment officer of the final authority to invest an amount not to exceed:
(a) two percent of the total value of portfolio assets for each investment, if the investment is in assets that are publicly tradeable and the investment provides for liquidity in ninety days or less; or
(b) one percent of the total value of portfolio assets for each investment, if the investment is in assets that are not publicly tradeable or the investment's liquidity provision is greater than ninety days.
(2) Any final authority delegated to the chief investment officer pursuant to this subsection must be exercised subject to the oversight of the chief executive officer. The closing documentation of an investment made pursuant to this delegation must include the chief executive officer's certification that the investment conforms to the amount and the extent of the delegation. The closing documentation must also contain the chief executive officer's certification that the investment complies with the requirements of Section 9-16-50(A)(5). Any authority exercised pursuant to this section must be exercised in a manner consistent with the limitations imposed by this section and investments may not be divided into smaller amounts in order to avoid these limitations. The commission must be notified of an investment made pursuant to any delegated authority within three business days of the investment's closing and the investment must be reviewed with the commission at its next regularly scheduled meeting. The commission may amend, suspend, or revoke the delegation of the final authority to invest at any time and may place stricter limits on any delegated authority than those provided in this subsection.
SECTION 7. Article 1, Chapter 16, Title 9 of the S.C. Code is amended by adding:
Section 9-16-110. The Attorney General may bring an action in a court of competent jurisdiction to enforce this chapter.
SECTION 8. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
This web page was last updated on March 8, 2023 at 12:23 PM