TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale which would prohibit New Jersey’s pension and annuity funds from investing in foreign companies doing business with Iran and require the funds to divest any interests in such companies was unanimously approved by the Senate today by a vote of 34-0, receiving final legislative approval.
“As the debate continues over whether the United States should be involved in conflicts in the Middle East, I think most people on either side of the debate would agree that New Jersey tax dollars should not be used to fuel the Iranian war machine,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “New Jersey must pull out of investments which promote Iran’s nuclear weapons program and expand their military capabilities and international terror campaigns. We cannot use New Jerseyans’ hard-earned tax dollars to fund future attacks against American troops or citizens.”
The bill, S-2615, would direct the State Investment Council to immediately cease doing business with foreign companies that support the defense, nuclear or energy sectors of Iran’s economy. The Council would be required to divest all current investments in companies doing business with Iran, and would be prohibited from investing in those companies until they cease ties with Iran, or Iran ceases its nuclear proliferation and terrorism campaigns. The bill would not apply to the activities of any foreign companies engaged in humanitarian aid to the Iranian people.
Since 1984, the United States Department of State has included Iran on the list of countries that sponsor terrorism. As such, direct financial transactions between the United States and Iran have been banned for many years. This bill would provide further sanctions against the Iranian government by cutting off support to companies which fuel Iran’s terror campaigns and efforts to enrich uranium for use in nuclear arms.
“As hostilities escalate between Iran, its neighbors, and the rest of the world, we have to take a good look at any financial ties New Jersey maintains with despots,” said Senator Vitale. “New Jersey’s pension portfolio is – understandably – very diverse, and foreign investments are not out of the question. However, we cannot tie our State’s retirement system into a country which is seeking to develop nuclear weapons to kill as many Americans as possible. We must immediately withdraw financial ties to companies with fund Iran’s military efforts, and set an example for the rest of the free world.”
The bill was approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee earlier in the month. Identical legislation was also approved by the Assembly in June. It now heads to the Governor to be signed into law.