PA Lawmakers Consider Iran, Sudan Divestment

June 27, 2008 ( - The bill pending before the Pennsylvania state House would give the state Treasurer and two state public pension funds about 18 months to divest holdings in foreign companies tied to Iran and Sudan.

Covered under the measure in addition to the state Treasurer are the Public School Employees’ Retirement System and State Employees’ Retirement System, the Associated Press reported.

The mandate would expire for Iran when it is no longer considered a state sponsor of terror, and for Sudan when genocide in the country has been over for at least a year.

Supporters said the measure mirrors actions taken by other state lawmakers “I believe the time has come for Pennsylvania to join with the other 18 states that have taken this courageous step to say no to companies that are propping up terrorist regimes,” said Representative Josh Shapiro.

However, opponents warned the change will cost the pension funds more than $40 million in transaction fees and other short-term expenses. Representative Steven Nickol said the policy first should be adopted for the Treasury Department alone as a test case.

The House voted to add language that forces taxpayers to make up for any resulting investment losses, but the underlying bill still awaits House action.