The Colorado Senate passed a bill that would require the $43 billion Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association to divest from companies with economic prohibitions against Israel.
The measure passed the Senate on Wednesday by a 25-9 vote. An earlier version passed the House on Feb. 26. The bill must now go to a conference committee for final approval. The bill is expected to be signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper.
“Like all bills, the governor does a careful final review, but he supports the underlying policy and would expect to sign it,” said a spokeswoman for Mr. Hickenlopper in an e-mail.
HB 1284 calls for the Denver-based pension fund to identify international companies with economic prohibitions against Israel in which it has direct investments by Jan. 1, 2017, and under certain circumstances, withdraw from those investments.
Companies would be given an opportunity to cease their prohibitions against Israel before funds are withdrawn.
Economic prohibitions 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, including but not limited to the boycott of, divestment from, or imposition of sanctions on the state of Israel,” according to the bill.
Colorado PERA’s board opposes the bill, according to a statement on its website. No further details were provided.
Gregory W. Smith, PERA’s executive director, was not immediately available for additional information, including the number of companies targeted for potential divestment and how much PERA has invested in them. The bill does not affect defined contribution investments.
The retirement system already has divestment policies for companies doing business in Sudan and Iran.