Legislation: The “Protecting Florida’s Investments Act,” passed in 2007, prohibits the Florida State Board of Administration, which manages the Florida Retirement System Trust Fund as part of a $171 billion portfolio, from investing in any foreign company which has a deals with Iran’s government or has invested in Iran’s energy sector. The law would expire if Congress or the president affirms through “legislation, executive order, or written certification … that mandatory divestment … interferes with the conduct of United States foreign policy,” or that the “United States revokes all sanctions imposed against the government of Iran.” (1)
The “Scrutinized Companies Act,” passed in 2011, prohibits the state of Florida from contracting with any of the companies on the list of sanctioned companies determined by the “Protecting Florida’s Investments Act” for over $1 million.
In 2012, the state passed the “Iran Banking Certification Act.” The law is a “look-through” provision barring any Florida-chartered financial institution from maintaining correspondent or payable-through accounts with any international financial institution involved in Iran’s defense and nuclear industries, or has ties to the Central Bank of Iran. (2)
Key actors: Florida Governor Scott was one of 11 Republican governors who co-authored a letter in early September to Pres. Obama making clear their commitment to maintain drop state sanctions after the JPOA is implemented. (3) Jeff Atwater, a former state legislator and Florida’s current Chief Financial Officer and one of three trustees of the SBA, is also a leader of Defund Iran, and co-authored the “Protecting Florida’s Investments Act.” (4) Mr. Atwater has characterized the JPOA as “a direct assault on Florida’s divestment from state-sponsored terror,” and has urged Florida lawmakers to take the necessary action to offset the implementation of the JPOA. (5) Sen. Bogdanoff (R – West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale), who won Mr. Atwater’s seat in 2010 after the latter was barred from running due to term limit restrictions, co-authored the “Scrutinized Companies Act.” (6)
Effect: As a result of the “Protecting Florida’s Investments Act,” the SBA is barred from investing in 36 companies, as of September 29 2015, which meet these conditions. As of early September, the SBA announced it has divested $1.1 billion from companies doing business with Iran. (7) As of January 2015, no Florida-chartered financial institution maintains accounts in violation of the “Iran Banking Certification Act,” according to the Office of Financial Regulations. (8)