News


Law would allow corporations to be 'socially responsible'

'Start of something transformational,' Marin legislator says

A new law passed by the state Assembly could, for the first time ever, make it legal in California for a corporation to put social responsibility before shareholder profits.

The Assembly on Monday overwhelmingly approved AB 361, a bill introduced by Marin Assemblyman Jared Huffman that would create a new class of corporation in California called "benefit corporations."

Benefit corporations' charter would be, according to Huffman's office, "to pursue a material positive impact on society and the environment, while meeting higher standards of accountability and transparency."

State law currently requires corporations to put financial interests first, and any corporation not doing so could face legal action from shareholders.

Corporations in a "benefit" category would be required to submit annual reports on how they're meeting certain social and environmental standards, as defined by a neutral third party.

Huffman calls the bill, which passed 50 – 14, "the start of something transformational."

"Socially-responsible businesses, investors and consumers all over California are calling for this type of legislation," said Huffman. "But most importantly, this bill sends a message to socially-minded companies and entrepreneurs that California is open for this emerging form of business."

Similar legislation has been passed in Maryland, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Vermont and Virginia. California's bill was suggested by several responders to Huffman's annual "There Oughta Be a Law…or Not" contest, which challenges constituents to propose their own legislative ideas.

The bill was sponsored by a nonprofit agency called B Lab, which certifies socially responsible companies as "B Corporations."

Jeff Kletter, founder and CEO of the San Rafael-based KINeSYS Inc., supports AB 361 and says such bills are necessary to "take the economy to the next level."

"Benefit corporations are companies that care for more than the almighty dollar but understand the power of money to help achieve positive changes," says Kletter.

Stuart Rudick, of Mindful Investors LLC, in Mill Valley, agrees, adding that "benefit corporations value profits, people and our planet equally."

The bill now proceeds to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk for approval.

Comments

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Posted by Steve
a resident of Charter Oaks
on Aug 31, 2011 at 8:28 am

<The bill was sponsored by a nonprofit agency called B Lab, which certifies socially responsible companies as "B Corporations." >

Don't our legislators have better things to do...like getting the economy back on track and better budgeting. Instead, let's cater to this special interest auditing company to feed them business...ughhh!!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nate Silver
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2011 at 9:03 am

I like this Bill very much. It is cutting edge, socially responsible, and good for California. I think it very well might attract companies from other states, and it might influence other states to pass similar legislation. Good news!!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by steve
a resident of Parkside
on Aug 31, 2011 at 9:58 am

Wow, Nate--are you serious? This "Bill" is at least the third new piece of social engineering in this state that I've read about before noon today. What is going on here? Where are people's priorities? Certainly not on job creation or growth. What's it going to take to slap people back to reality? 25% unemployment? Flash mobs and riots in the street? Oh, wait......
At least we'll all feel good that those unemployed looters are expressing themselves.....


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 31, 2011 at 10:05 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Too late for Solyndra!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 31, 2011 at 10:08 am

Stacey is a registered user.

BTW, steve, that isn't really Nate Silver posting.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nate Silver
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2011 at 10:08 am

No, Steeeeve, I wasn't serious. Unserious people like myself give reasons for our positions. Serious people like yourself howl at the moon with angry, hate-filled inanities.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by steve
a resident of Parkside
on Aug 31, 2011 at 10:33 am

Thanks, nate. I would hate to hear you were thinking we took you seriously. And I can certainly see where you would read into my comments about jobs and coherent priority setting as being hateful.
I was venting with good reason, since some folks in this state still refuse to admit that we have serious fiscal problems created (and not being solved) by the Dems that have a stranglehold on our state.
Anyway, you're a hoot...thanks for the sarcastic humor.....


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nate Silver
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2011 at 10:41 am

By all means, vent away Steeeeve. It is probably better for you than other ways of releasing your anger and hatred.

@"BTW, steve, that isn't really Nate Silver posting" And here we have Stacey the sleuth doing what she is so good at -- tracking down the REAL identities of the posters on these sites.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on Sep 1, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Nate's way of venting his anger is with personal attacks and snarky replies. Of course, I'm glad he's doing it that way rather than by restricting my freedom with more government control.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 1, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Nate, I thought you changed over to Kate Golden or Nathaniel B. Silver.

The question is, why is this legislation even necessary? Corporations can be socially responsible now. No corporation will choose to upset investors because the investors will go elsewhere.

I think the person who posted on the proposed "babysitter" legislation was right; we need a part time legislature. These people have too much time on their hands--and without prejudice as to party affiliation.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Town
a resident of Danbury Park
on Sep 1, 2011 at 2:59 pm

So how does a company which makes no money stay in business?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Sep 1, 2011 at 3:45 pm

I'm not sure what the big deal here is. There are already corporations that put other considerations ahead of profit making. They're called "non-profit" companies and "not-for-profit" companies. As far as I can tell from the article, this legislation is simply creating another class of corporation in addition to the at least two other classes of similar corporations which already exist.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Sep 1, 2011 at 4:25 pm

It seems that existing laws do much to prevent socially irresponsibility, and most corporations already understand the advantages of good CSR in public relations; but if this bill works to prevent shareholders from bringing suit based simply on bottom-line figures, then I'm all for it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sal
a resident of Downtown
on Sep 1, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger,

Thanks for taking time to share your love for corporations!...and I thought you spent all your time trying to destroy our public schools and bash teachers...go figure!

BTW, I hear Texas is nice this time of year(let steve know that too), check it out.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 1, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Lived in Texas already Sal. I don't bash teachers; not destroying public schools--you might want to point out how you support those accusations. No particular love of corporations; worked in both public and private arenas. Just not a fan of nonsensical governmental interference.

You'll have to tell Steve yourself cuz I don't actually know who s/he might be, just like you.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by steve
a resident of Parkside
on Sep 2, 2011 at 8:44 am

yo, sally. I think I'll stay in California, the place of my birth, even if it's just to annoy you and your other trolling friends, by posting what's right and what should be changed to make it right.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sacto's Nuts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2011 at 8:55 am

It's simply outrageous, when this state is facing bankruptcy, that the legislature spends it time on this kind of crazy BS instead of fixing mulitudinous problems that are preventing job growth and financial stability. Has CA truly become the land of nuts?

It's vital to our future that get rid of the full-time legislature. We need to go to a system, such as that in Texas, where the legistlature meets only for two months every other year. This gets rid of the career politicians which are destroying this state. States that have part-time legislatures are generally much better governed than California.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bettina
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 2, 2011 at 12:16 pm

I agree with Kathleen Ruegsegger, Sacto's Nuts, or whatever she has chosen to call herself today.

Part-time legislators will provide more opportunity to get really rich people filling the seats. Not having to rely on a two-month salary, they can afford to fall back on their high salaries. Brilliant!

Part-time legislators, having less salary, will also be more susceptible to richies bribing them. But that's okay by Rueg-Sacto-Nuts, I guess. More brilliance from the lone star state.

I gotta tell ya, as soon as some big-head Texan or former Texan starts holding up Texas as the model for anything -- other than heat, filth, grime, corruption and stupidity -- I stop listening.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 2, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Bettina, I don't post as anybody else; no need. Someone else suggested Texas; I indicated I lived there once. There was no statement for or against Texas. Anything that stops career legislators and a large staff is fine by me. You must realize there are already plenty of rich legislators, full or part time. If someone wants to serve and can get elected, they'll find a way whether they are rich or not.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bettina Somacholarsomalovitch
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 2, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger-Sacro-Nuts says, "If someone wants to serve and can get elected, they'll find a way whether they are rich or not."

Yeah, that explains why so many poor people are legislators. Of course, how could we have missed that?

Fact is, part-timers would be even more likely to be from upper classes; and those who aren't wealthy, faced with a mere part-time salary, would be more susceptible to bribes.

Last point: the ploy to replace full-time legislators with part-timers is a great way to give lobbiests even more leverage/influence; part-time pols take their eye off the ball for 10 months, lobbiests are there to do their work for them.

Kath-Sacro, possibly unwittingly (she is from Texas), is smuggling yet another way for reducing govt regulatory oversight while increasing corporate power.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 2, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Bettina/Nate/Whatever, Never said I was from Texas; not Sacto (or Sacro as you've typed it). You must wear yourself out jumping to conclusions. This legislation isn't about increasing corporate power or reducing government oversight. Find some other stage for your tap dance logic.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 2, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Bettina, I responded. Full time legislators come up with legislation like this to feel they are earning their keep. No prejudice as to party affiliation in that belief. Anyway, the real point is the legislation isn't needed in this case, whether it came up in a full or part time capacity.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bettina S
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 2, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Changing the subject Kathleen Ruegsegger? You claimed a part-time legislature was a good idea. I argued that your claim was without merit. You seem preoccupied with people's names. Is this too complex for you?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 2, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Really Bettina, no change. Less government interference, yes. If that takes keeping legislators out of career service, great. If it means limiting time spent at the office to only what is necessary to conduct the people's business, okay too. It's a big topic. I'll be out of contact for a bit, but please talk amongst yourself.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 2, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Fawkes,

Highly disingenuous to ask someone else to be sincere in their response to your claims when they are framed as ridicule of the person you're asking.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bettina S,. aka Fawkes
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 2, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Hey Stacey, try to follow this....

Kathleen Ruegsegger put forward a claim: she likes the idea of a part-time legislature.

I responded to her claim, and offered three reasonable counterclaims which, if valid, reveal the transparent weakness of Kathleen Ruegsegger's initial claim.

Nothing disingenuous there. The only thing disingenuous is that neither you nor Kathleen Ruegsegger have managed to offer claims that might show my own to be invalid. True enough, Kathleen Ruegsegger offers a feeble and repetitive restatement of her original claim. But does she offer an argument? Nope, and rarely does. What the two of you sillies do best is howl at the moon about my identity. Pretty transparent. Both of you are not about ideas in the least. You're both big egos whose identities are bound up with this site, and with your soft-headed ideas being exposed for what they are, all you can do is wrap yourselves in your own identities and ballyhoo about how others don't do the same.

I've got news for you, Stacey whoever you may be. Most of the posters here realize that ideas are more important than the name one uses. That's why we see 'patriot', 'concerned', 'reasonable', 'liberal', etc. Who cares? It's the quality of ideas that counts. But you and your silly sister, Kathleen Ruegsegger, are not up to the task. Too bad, Stace. Scoreboard!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 2, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Responding to her claim in the way you did and calling it "reasonable"...disingenuous.

Part-time legislatures: more susceptible to bribes or not? We have states with part-time legislatures and full-time legislatures. We should be able to tell, which you haven't, instead of characterizing Kathleen as tongue-in-cheek "brilliant" or "big-headed".

Lobbyists: are they more effective lobbying part-time legislators or full-time legislators? Again, you failed to provide basic evidence to support the claim. Most people don't live in your bubble.

I don't know the answers to these questions nor do I have a position on the subject. I'm just looking for some basic argumentative support from you which is consistently lacking.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 2, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Perhaps I hold the false belief that when you can start to demonstrate the ability to provide basic support for your assertions, you will no longer need to rely upon ridicule of others.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 3, 2011 at 7:29 am

Bettina, etc. It's not that you are anonymous; it is that posting under multiple names could have others believing there are multiple people posting when in fact it is only one person. So if you choose to use multiple names, I will let others know it is just you, again.

I don't like this or the "babysitter" legislation. It seems CA legislators are doing busywork. The topic of the value of part time or full time legislature is longer. Not getting onto it now. Start another thread and see if others wish to discuss it.


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