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Iran Legislation Moves Forward in Harrisburg

May 14, 2014 By:
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A state Senate committee passed a bill last week that prohibits companies invested in Iran’s energy sector from doing business in Pennsylvania.

The legislation, which has been in the works since June 2012, must now go before the full Senate for approval and then return to the state House, which unanimously passed the bill before it was amended in the Senate.

It builds on a 2010 law that forced the state’s largest public pension systems to end financial ties with foreign companies that do at least $20 million in investments in Iran’s energy sector or aid the country’s military supply.

This legislation would prohibit any company that invests the same amount in Iran’s energy sector from entering into a state procurement contract worth more than $1 million. State Sen. Mike Stack, a Democrat from Northeast Philadelphia, and State Rep. Dan Fran­kel, a Pittsburgh Democrat, both proposed legislation that has been combined into the most recent bill.

“Pennsylvania on its own is not going to change foreign policy,” Frankel, the Pittsburgh lawmaker who chairs the state House’s Democratic caucus, said in an interview during a recent visit to Philadelphia. “But we ought to at least be sending a consistent message here that we’re not going to support a terrorist state and we shouldn’t support companies that do business with a terrorist state.”

Hank Butler, Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition executive director,  described the legislation as the next logical step. It enables the state of Pennsylvania to take a further stand against a nuclear Iran.

The senators amended the legislation — after hearing concerns from insurance companies —to make it consistent with federal guidelines, Butler said. He also said that they heard from lobbyists of large corporations who said, “We do business in Iran, you shouldn’t do this.”

The state General Assembly recessed May 7 for the primary elections, but the Senate could vote on the bill when it returns in June, Butler said.

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