WASHINGTON Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., introduced a bill to provide federal support for state and local pension funds efforts to divest companies connected with Sudan.
According to a news release from Mr. Durbins office, the legislation affirms that states and other entities should be permitted to divest their assets of certain holdings as an expression of opposition to the genocide and polices of the Khartoum government, and that such divestment laws are consistent with the Constitution. This authorization would expire in the event that the Khartoum government alters its behavior and federal sanctions are lifted. The bill would also recognize that companies that are operating (in Sudan) under federal permit or to promote health or religious activities should not be classified as supporting the Sudanese government.
On Feb. 23, a U.S. District Court judge in Chicago overturned an Illinois statute requiring public pension funds in the state to divest investments in companies with ties to Sudan. At least six states have pension fund divestment laws, while another 22 are considering such restrictions.
The bill was referred to the Senate Banking Committee, Sandra Abrevaya, spokeswoman for the senator, said in an interview.
Illinois Muni objects to legislation requiring in-state investments
OAK BROOK, Ill. Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund officials oppose state legislation calling for Illinois public pension funds to invest 5% of their assets to promote economic opportunities in the state.
The bill, introduced by state Rep. John E. Bradley on Feb. 7, calls for the funds to make reasonable efforts to invest a minimum of 5% of pension fund assets in economic opportunity investments in Illinois or report to the Legislature and governor the reason (they) could not meet this minimum. The investments should produce a competitive rate of return commensurate with the risk, according to the bill.
Mandates in investments are detrimental to the fund, according to a statement on the $21.1 billion municipal retirement funds website. There is no current mandate to identify economic opportunity investments made by the fund.
Mr. Bradley couldnt be reached for comment.
Florida targets divestment of Sudan-linked firms
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Florida State Board of Administration would have to divest companies with business ties to Sudan under a bill in the Florida Legislature. The bill, introduced by state Sen. Ted Deutch on Feb. 26, would require the board of the $128.6 billion fund to divest 50% of its investments in companies within nine months of asking them to stop doing business in Sudan, and fully divest those companies within 15 months. The bill provides some exceptions, including for companies providing humanitarian goods and services in the country. The bill hasnt been assigned to a committee, and Mr. Deutch couldnt be reached for comment.
Michael P. McCauley, Florida SBA director of investment services and communications, didnt return calls for comment.
as does proposal being considered in Maryland Senate
BALTIMORE Maryland State Retirement & Pension System would be required to pull the plug on investments in companies doing business in Sudan if a bill being considered in the state Senate passes, according to a statement issued by Gov. Martin OMalleys office. The $35.4 billion fund would be required to warn companies in which it holds stock that the system could divest unless the companies drop their financial relationships with the government of Sudan.
One of the most effective ways the state can make its voice heard is by divesting in companies that continue financial dealings with the Sudanese government, the statement said.