Senate Passes Iran Divestment Act

Jack M. Martins

January 10, 2012

The New York State Senate today final legislative passage to the Iran Divestment Act, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and co-sponsored by Senator Jack M. Martins.  The bill would prohibit companies that provide goods, services or credit worth $20 million or more to Iran's energy industry from entering into or renewing state and local government contracts.

“When I introduced this bill last fall, I said the Senate would take it up very early in the 2012 session and we are keeping that commitment,” Senator Skelos said.  “The Senate’s swift action shows how important it is that we stand together to condemn tyrannical governments like Iran which sponsor terrorism, have attempted to acquire nuclear weapons and threaten U.S. allies like Israel, as Iran has repeatedly done.  I applaud Speaker Silver for taking the lead on this effort and passing it in the Assembly.”

“We need to stand together as one nation against any country that would seek to do harm. This is a measure that we need to ensure that no entity is benefitting monetarily from doing business with a country that would seek to harm allies such as Israel,” said Senator Martins. “I want to thank and recognize my colleague, Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, for co-sponsoring this legislation in the Assembly.”

The Iran Divestment Act of 2012 (S5917A) was modeled after similar legislation in California and conceived with help from the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.

Federal law authorizes state and local governments to divest from companies whose interests in Iran's energy sector directly or indirectly support its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The divestment would apply to companies engaged in oil or natural gas development in Iran, as well any company found to be directly involved in nuclear power.

The legislation directs the Office of General Services to create a list of people, corporations and other organizations with investments of more than $20 million in the Iranian energy sector. Those on the list would be excluded from bidding on government contracts.

The bill also requires individuals or entities to certify they are not on the list when they submit bids to state and local agencies. Individuals or companies on the list that are the sole source of certain commodities or services can renew or enter into contracts on a case-by-case basis.

The bill, which is sponsored by every member of the Senate Majority conference, will be sent to the Governor for his consideration.