May 1, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, FL - Continuing to pave the way on divestment of state funds from rogue nations, the Florida Legislature on Friday passed a bill making it easier for Florida’s citizens to exercise economic pressure against terror-sponsoring states. The bill, SB 538 sponsored by Senators Carey Baker (R-Eustis) and Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton), requires fire and police pension funds to divest from Iran and Sudan and requires the State Board of Administration to provide a “terror-free” option for state employees participating in the State’s defined contribution retirement plan.
In 2007, State Senator Ted Deutch sponsored the Protecting Florida’s Investments Act, making Florida the first state to divest its pension funds from companies engaging in business with Iran and Sudan. Since its passage, Florida – which has the nation’s fourth largest pension fund - has divested over $1 billion from scrutinized companies.
“The state of Florida has made it clear that it will not aid the genocide in Darfur or Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program,” said Sen. Deutch. “Today, we reinforce the commitment of our state’s citizens to not support companies who choose to put profit over international security.”
“As a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I know firsthand of the atrocities that occur because of the support and funding of these terror-sponsoring countries,” said Sen. Baker. “Our state’s workers will not continue to have their hard earned dollars used to aid those who seek our destruction.”
SB 538 requires police and firefighter pension funds to identify any holdings they may have with scrutinized companies and divest these securities by 2010.
“I am proud that we have worked in a bipartisan fashion to create this innovative investing option for state employees,” said House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, who worked with Sen. Deutch to pass the Protecting Florida’s Investments Act as well as SB 538. “This further reinforces Florida's commitment that we are not investing funds in companies that finance terrorism and threaten America's national security.”
Since Florida became the first state to divest, 18 other states have adopted terror-free language. Wall Street has also followed suit, creating terror free index funds, and on a federal level, the Financial Services Committee of the United States House of Representatives this week considered the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act to help other states expedite divestment efforts.
SB 538 now awaits the Governor’s signature.