Texas state lawmakers are adamant that taxpayer dollars will not be used to enrich countries that sponsor terrorism. Legislators filed bills to prohibit governmental entities in the state from doing business with Iran, Sudan, or companies that do business with a foreign terrorist organization.
The Terror State Divestiture Act, and the Terror State Contracting Divestiture Act, will strengthen the Lone Star States’ current Iranian and Sudanese divestiture standards, says the author of two Senate bills, Senator Van Taylor (R-Plano).
Senate Bill 253, the Terror State Divestiture Act expands upon Texas’ current divestiture of ties with Iran and Sudan with retirement funds. It prohibits business partnerships and expenses for all state and local expenditures – funds in the state treasury, public investment pools, and those invested by local governments.
Senate Bill 252, the Terror State Contracting Divestiture Act, applies to a state agency, city, county, school district, special district, and the state legislature. It prevents these entities from contracting with a business for goods or services, including public works projects, if that business is engaged in operations with the Sudanese or Iranian governments or a foreign terrorist organization designated by the U.S. State Department.
According to the U.S. Department of State, “Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) are foreign organizations that are designated by the Secretary of State in accordance with section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended. FTO designations play a critical role in our fight against terrorism and are an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business.”
Senator Taylor says that while it is against the law for state retirement systems to invest in companies that do business with the Sudanese or Iranian governments, there is nothing preventing state agencies and political subdivisions in Texas from using taxpayer dollars to contract with these same companies.
Taylors says the change is needed in Texas’ contracting law to close “the contracting loophole.”
“I will never forget the first time I walked into Second Force Reconnaissance Company’s Headquarters, at Camp Lejeune, NC. It held a memorial to some of the 220 Marines killed by Iranian terrorists in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983. The inscription read, ‘They Came in Peace.’ Shockingly, only a few months later in Iraq my unit confronted Iranian-funded agitators, spies, and anti-American protesters,” said Taylor in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “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 a sign of Texas’ commitment to an American foreign policy rooted in unwavering support for Israel.”
Senator Taylor added, “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.”
In 2013, Senator Taylor who was then a representative in the Texas House authored the amendment to then-Senator Dan Patrick’s (R-Houston) legislation, Senate Bill 200, to divest state pension funds from companies doing business with Iran or Sudan. The Taylor Amendment passed the House overwhelmingly by a vote of 130-9, and SB 200 passed the Senate unanimously as amended. Since then, over 9 million taxpayer dollars have been divested from Iran.
A similar bill, House Bill 1142, has been filed in the Texas House by Representative Sarah Davis (R-Houston).