Texas Latest to Target Sudan-related Investments

March 21, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A bill was approved by the Texas state senate this week that would require the state's pension funds to divest holdings in companies doing business with Sudan.

The Houston Chronicle reports the bill would require the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) of Texas and the Employees Retirement System (ERS) of Texas to divest from foreign companies that do business with the government of Sudan, supply military equipment to the country or have significant involvement in the oil business there. Before divesting, the funds would have 15 months to give the targeted companies time to quit doing business with the Sudanese government.

State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) told the Chronicle the TRS has $450 million and the ERS has $50 million invested in targeted companies, representing less than 1% of the combined holdings of the two pension funds. Under the bill, the state comptroller is responsible for preparing the list of targeted firms.

The unanimously approved bill now goes to the state House, where a companion bill is pending.

Texas joins a long line of states proposing similar measures to protest genocide in the Darfur region (See Maryland Lawmakers Push for Pension System Divestment of Sudan-Linked Investmentsand Colorado House Passes Sudan Divestment Bill). In February, a federal judge in Illinois threw out a similar measure, saying it was unconstitutional (See Court Blocks Illinois Sudan Law).