#NCGA: Agenda 21? Payoff to campaign contributors, lobbyist pals? (You make the call.)

legislatureIn this case, I hate that I am right.  The state Senate Finance Committee is taking up S99 (H440) a/k/a “North Carolina Benefit Corporation Act.”  This sucker has been voted down TWICE already by the NCGA.  For it to get a new lease on life here in the short session in an election year means SOMEBODY wants it BAD. 

Here was our two cents from an earlier post: 

[…] My NCGA source brought this to my attention following my story aboutSpeaker Thom Tillis and legislator-turned-lobbyist Harold Brubaker.  (The post mentioned Visiting International Faculty, a B-corp from Chapel Hill, that employs Brubaker as a lobbyist.) 

Senator Pete Brunstetter (R-Forsythe) was a primary sponsor of both the 2011 and 2013 versions of the benefits corporation legislation.  In the House, you’ve got a whole lot of far-left Democrats sponsoring the bill. The primary sponsors include Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford) — a HUGE environmentalist – and three Republicans (Leo Daughtry, Chuck McGrady, and Rob Bryan).  Those three GOPers are all part of the Tillis for US Senate campaign team and close House allies of the speaker. 

There are a total of 30 b-corps within North Carolina.   The b-corporation route appears to be quite popular with solar and other alternative energy providers.  Cornelius-based Aquesta Bank, whose ties to Speaker Tillis we’ve already documented, has made funding of solar energy projects a key part of their business strategy.  Alternative energy mandates also have a surprising amount of popularity with the House leadership.  An effort, last session, to do away with alternative energy mandates — with the aim of saving money for consumers — died with the aid of House leaders.[…]

Some critics paint B-corps as a tool of the Agenda 21 crowd.   The folks at Civitas have a more nuanced take on the matter:


For starters, the underlying premise of creating a “benefit corporation” is that traditional corporations and companies don’t benefit the public. This notion, of course, is ludicrous. As Francis DeLuca noted in the 2011 Bad Bill summary:  “A lawful, profitable business, by its very existence, already ‘benefits’ society…A business, by making a profit, increases the wealth of society and hence the ability of individuals to find employment and increase their standard of living. They also provide products and services that make our lives better.”big money

Moreover, upon reading SB 99 we discover how the state would evaluate whether or not a company is a “benefit corporation.” According to the bill, “a benefit corporation shall have as one of its corporate purposes the creation of a general public benefit.” The legislation defines “general public benefit” as: “A material positive impact on society and the environment, taken as a whole, as measured by a third-party standard.” (Emphasis added.)

This passage provides a major clue suggesting that SB 99 seeks to enforce the activities of companies according to certain standards of environmental impact and sustainability measures. And who provides this “third-party standard?”

A non-profit group called “B-Lab” is the primary third-party evaluator of B-corporations.  One of the perks of becoming a B-corporation is joining a network of other companies to take advantage of discounted services provided by other B-corporations (the list of members confirms B-Lab’s mission of largely promoting “sustainability” measures). Over time, however, it would not be surprising if B-corporations begin to seek favored tax statuses as well.

Oh, by the way, B-Lab doesn’t appear to provide “third-party” approval for B-corporations out of the goodness of their hearts. According to this New York Times article, it can run up to $25,000 for a corporation to join the membership rolls of B-corporations.

What a nice scam for the B-Lab folks: pressure state legislatures to enact laws recognizing B-corporations based upon your approval, then charge for that approval.

If companies want to adjust how they spend their money or their “environmental impact,” they should be free to do so and free to contract with consultants to evaluate and improve their efforts. There is no reason why legislation needs to interject itself into this process. It doesn’t seem far-fetched to believe that this scheme was cooked up by B-Lab as an effort to use legislative authority to line their pockets. One also should be concerned with the use of legislative muscle to advance often highly questionable “sustainability” measures, as well as the potential for B-corporations to seek government privileges in the future. […]