The Illinois General Assembly passed a bill that would require the five state-funded retirement systems to divest investment holdings in companies that boycott Israel.
The measure passed the House unanimously Monday, nearly a month after it passed the Senate.
A spokeswoman for Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said Tuesday the governor “looks forward to signing the bill,” which would make Illinois “the first state in America to divest from companies that boycott Israel.”
SB 1761 would require each of the five state-funded retirement systems to identify companies that boycott Israel in which it has direct or indirect holdings and, under certain circumstances, to divest itself of those holdings.
The bill affects the $44.8 billion Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System, Springfield; $17.3 billion Illinois State Universities’ Retirement System, Champaign; and Illinois State Employees’ Retirement System, Illinois Judges’ Retirement System, and Illinois General Assembly Retirement System, whose roughly $15 billion in combined assets are overseen by the Illinois State Board of Investment, Chicago.
The bill could impact investments in some 25 to 30 companies, according to one preliminary estimate cited by William R. Atwood, executive director of the Illinois State Board of Investment, in an earlier interview with Pensions & Investments. The companies targeted for potential divestment could not immediately be learned. Mr. Atwood could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
According to the legislation, “boycott Israel” means “engaging in actions that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or otherwise limit commercial relations with the state of Israel or companies based in the state of Israel or in territories controlled by the state of Israel.”
“Illinois has strong economic, scientific, educational and cultural ties with Israel, which bring jobs and other benefits to the citizens of our state,” said Jay Tcath, executive vice president of the Jewish United Fund, in a news release. “Investing in companies that seek to weaken Israel economically is antithetical to the broad interests of Illinois taxpayers.”