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Iran Sanctions Bills Filed in Texas Senate

A Texas state senator plans to shore up, close loopholes, and expand the state’s existing divestiture standard for the Iranian and Sudanese governments in two bills that prevent taxpayer dollars from flowing into countries that sponsor terrorism.

On Tuesday, November 22, Senator Van Taylor (R-Plano) pre-filed legislation in preparation for the 85th session, which convenes in January. Senate Bill 253, the Terror State Divestiture Act, and Senate Bill 252, the Terror State Contracting Divestiture Act, strengthen the state’s current Iranian and Sudanese divestiture standards.

Earlier this year, Governor Greg Abbott championed the notion of such legislation. Currently, the 2013 Texas Prohibition on Investment in Iran Act only bans state pension and retirement systems from investing in Iran or with entities that do business with the Iranian and Sudanese governments. Nothing prevents state agencies and political subdivisions of this state from using taxpayer dollars to contract with these same companies.

“Texas must build on our previous divestment measures and remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure not one dime of taxpayer money goes to companies profiting off terrorist regimes or organizations with the goal of harming Americans or destroying our way of life,” said Taylor, who authored an amendment to that 2013 Texas law which divested state pension funds from companies that do business with Iran or Sudan.

Taylor’s newly proposed legislation amends Texas contracting law to close loopholes and ensure that taxpayer dollars are not spent on countries that sponsor terrorism. These bills also expand the state’s current divestiture policy by prohibiting investments in companies that do business with a foreign terrorist organization as designated by the U.S. State Department.

SB 253, the Terror State Divestiture Act, expands the state’s Iranian and Sudanese divestiture policies for state pension and retirement systems to include all state and local funds. This change would apply to funds in the state treasury, public investment pools, and those invested by local governments.

SB 252, the Terror State Contracting Divestiture Act, prohibits a state agency, city, county, school district, special district, and the legislature from contracting with a business for goods or services, including public works projects, if that business is engaged in business operations with the Sudanese or Iranian governments, or a foreign terrorist organization designated by the U.S. State Department.

In a press release, Taylor stated: “Our divestment policies in Texas have both tangible and symbolic significance. To date, over 9 million taxpayer dollars have been divested from Iran and it also serves as sign of Texas’ commitment to an American foreign policy rooted in unwavering support for Israel.”

Earlier this year, Breitbart Texas reported Governor Greg Abbott urged his gubernatorial peers to establish, maintain, or strengthen state-based sanctions against Iran. In a letter, Abbott called the Obama Administration’s appeal to convince states to lift similar policies “misguided.” The Texas Governor stated he strongly opposed the Iran Deal because it undermined the national security of the United States and its strategic allies abroad, especially that of  “our most important Middle East ally, Israel.”

Abbott described entering into an agreement with Iran, a country that consistently calls for “death to America” and “articulates anti-Semitic policies,” as short-sighted and ignores geopolitical realities. In that letter, the Governor expressed his intentions to shore up existing state sanctions with legislation that prohibits local government entities from investing in Iran or with entities conducting business with Iran and requiring all Texas entities, not just state pensions, to follow the state’s divestiture policy.

In January, Abbott met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and voiced his steadfast support and friendship to the State of Israel, announcing Texas maintained its Iran divestiture policy despite the fed’s Iran Deal. Abbott pledged to ask the Texas Legislature to strengthen the state’s existing sanctions on Iranian divestiture in the upcoming 2017 legislative session.

Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter.

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