PA Legislators Pass Terror Free Investing Bill

December 23, 2009 ( – Pennsylvania lawmakers have passed a bill that would ban public pension funds from investing in businesses with ties to terrorist nations.

The Montgomery News reports that the state House unanimously passed the measure this month. H.B. 1821, the Protecting Pennsylvania’s Investments Act, would require the state Treasurer’s Office, Public School Employees Retirement System, and State Employees Retirement System to end investments in targeted foreign companies that choose to continue business activities in Iran and Sudan, according to the newspaper.

The bill is awaiting Senate action.

State Representative Josh Shapiro, who sponsored the bill, said Pennsylvania currently invests about $660 million of public pension funds into foreign companies actively doing business with Iran and Sudan. The two countries are among four currently on a U.S. Department of State list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

“It’s a terrible investing decision — it’s terrible morally and is fiscally imprudent,” Shapiro said, according to the Montgomery News. “The geopolitical risk of investing with companies in Iran and Sudan is so great it undermines the value of our investments and threatens retirement savings.”

Nineteen states as well as the District of Columbia have enacted divestment legislation, and nine others have taken voluntary steps to divest their pension funds or passed resolutions urging divestment (see DiNapoli to Divest, Freeze Sudan, Iran-Tied Pension Holdings).