New MO Bill Requires Terrorism Divestment

March 23, 2010 ( – A former treasurer for the state of Missouri is working with a state lawmaker to push a measure that would prohibit state pension systems from investments in companies tied to terrorism.

An Associated Press report said the legislation sponsored by Representative Jason Smith would require state-funded systems to divest from companies found by the U.S. Government to be doing business with governments that are tied to terrorism.  The bill is designed to restrict the investments of Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System (MOSERS) and other state pension systems, such as those for the Missouri State Highway Patrol and Department of Transportation.

Smith said last year’s decision by MOSERS to drop increased terrorism screening showed the need for a law. The board dropped the policy in March 2009 because it decided the screening was not cost effective, and it now checks investments against a federal list of companies with terrorist ties.

“If Missourians or Americans knew that state resources were being invested into a company that has a lot of business ties in Iran, that would be very frustrating,” he said.

Working with Smith is Sarah Steelman, a Republican who served as state treasurer from 2005 to 2009. At Steelman’s behest, MOSERS approved the terrorism screening policy on direct investments dropped last year.