ADJOURNED 'til Thursday at 11 a.m. (Informal)
ADJOURNED 'til Thursday at 11 a.m. (Formal)
Afternoon Briefs: DiZoglio’s Priorities | PRIM’s “Shareholder Activism” | Quock Walker .: The State House News Service

Afternoon Briefs: DiZoglio’s Priorities | PRIM’s “Shareholder Activism” | Quock Walker

  • DiZoglio Details 'Social Justice and Equity" Audit Plan
  • Pension Fund To Exert Pressure On Climate Change
  • Senate Backs Observation of Black History-Related Days

DiZoglio Details 'Social Justice and Equity" Audit Plan
[Story Developing] If elected auditor, state Sen. Diana DiZoglio said Thursday that some of her early actions would include analyzing state spending with minority-owned businesses and reviewing diversity and inclusion in agency contracting. Accompanied by Sens. Adam Gomez, Lydia Edwards and Julian Cyr for a virtual press conference, the Methuen Democrat rolled out what she called her "social justice and equity audit plan" as she pledged to "be an auditor who opens state government to everyone and shifts the balance of power back to the working people." "Massachusetts government is great at making progressive promises, but too often it fails to actually live up to those ideals," she said. DiZoglio said her plan also involves reporting on "the equitable implementation of legalized cannabis" and the implementation of implicit-bias training for police, along with examining how state agencies act on recommendations from groups like the LGBTQ Youth Commission and Asian American Commission. "We don't have to choose just one or just three or just five," she said, noting that the auditor's office staff could work on multiple reports simultaneously. DiZoglio and fellow Democrat Chris Dempsey are vying for their party's nomination to succeed Auditor Suzanne Bump, who said last May that she would not seek another term after more than 20 years in various roles on Beacon Hill. Praising DiZoglio's work ethic, Cyr said the candidate would "make sure the commonwealth is living up to our obligations and that we are not only putting our money but our money and our programs and our policies where our mouth is." - Katie Lannan/SHNS

Pension Fund To Exert Pressure On Climate Change
Managers of the state's $104 billion state pension fund will no longer support corporate directors at companies that have failed to align their business plans with the goals of the Paris Climate agreement. The Pension Reserve Investment Management Board voted unanimously Thursday to support Treasurer Deb Goldberg's push to engage in "shareholder activism" to fight climate change. The vote concluded a process initiated last year by Goldberg to try to use the size of the state's pension fund as a weapon against climate change by building pressure from within companies to become greener, rather than withholding investments. "There's been an extraordinary move and recognition of the business risk associated with climate change and what's made it more evident are the wild swings and incredible risk of doing business in many parts of the country with climate disruptions," Goldberg said. Theresa McGoldrick, a PRIM Board member and executive vice president of the National Association of Government Employees, said the policy would allow PRIM to take a stand against climate change but also fulfill its fiduciary duty to retirees in the system. "It's a win-win situation," McGoldrick said.. PRIM Board member Robert Brousseau, who represents the State Teachers' Retirement System, said he has heard from many teachers who support the measure. Through engagement we're finding this is a far more productive enterprise than simply divesting our investments," Brousseau said. The new policy directs pension fund managers to use PRIM's proxy shareholder voting rights to oppose directors at companies that have "failed to align their business plans with the goals of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement, and/or that have failed to establish a plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050." Goldberg noted how an activist hedge fund that owns a small share of Exxon succeeded last year in electing three members to the fossil fuel giant's board. "Some will still want divestment, but it's becoming more and more evident that engagement potentially has a great deal more impact," Goldberg said. Treasury officials noted all divestment legislation was referred for further study by the Feb. 2 deadline for committees to report on bills before them, essentially ending the Legislature's consideration of divestment until at least next year. - Matt Murphy/SHNS

Senate Backs Observation of Black History-Related Days
The Senate approved two bills Thursday that would set aside on the calendar a pair of ceremonial days related to Black history in Massachusetts. Under a measure originally filed by Sen. Cindy Friedman (S 2704), July 8 would be observed as Massachusetts Emancipation Day. Sen. Joan Lovely said that day would honor Quock Walker, whose case before the Supreme Judicial Court in 1783 established the legal precedent in this state that slavery was "in direct conflict with the commonwealth's newly-minted Constitution." "And yet, most people are completely unfamiliar with the case and with Quock Walker. That's why bringing awareness to Quock Walker and his story is so incredibly important," Lovely said on the Senate floor. "It shines a bright light on an important part of our history in the commonwealth, a part of our history that has been kept in the shadows or simply ignored for too long." Last month, the House gave its initial approval to a bill (H 3117) designating July 8 as Massachusetts Emancipation Day a.k.a. Quock Walker Day. Under S 2703, the third Saturday in July would be observed by a ceremonial proclamation as Negro Election Day in recognition of "the adoption of the first black voting system." Lovely said that starting in 1740, enslaved people from Salem and across the region would hold an annual election to choose their own king or governor. That event eventually became the Black Picnic still held each summer in Salem. "As we celebrate Black History Month, it is critical that we acknowledge and celebrate the many ways that African Americans have fought for change and pushed our country and commonwealth forward," Lovely said. - Sam Doran/SHNS


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