Legislation: The Rhode Island General Assembly passed the Iran Divestiture Act (S521), requiring public pension funds to remove their investments in companies doing business worth more than $20 million in Iran. The public funds will compile a list of scrutinized companies, then providing those companies with a notice of their inclusion on the list and giving them 90 days to cease business operations in Iran, after which time the public fund will remove all its holdings in the company. Half of all assets must be removed by nine months after the company’s most recent appearance on the scrutinized companies list, and all assets removed within 15 months. (1) S521 also marks scrutinized companies as ineligible to enter into contracts with the state.
Key actors: S521 was requested by Attorney General Peter Kilmartin. “Corporations and investors that do business with Iran strengthen a dangerous regime,” he said. (2) Kilmartin conceived the bill with support from the National Association of Attorneys General, and the Israeli Consul General for New England Shai Bazak spoke out in favor of the bill during its debate. (3) The Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island and United Against Nuclear Iran also played key roles. (4) Primary sponsors of the bill included Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Cranston), Sen. Dominick Ruggiero (D-Providence), Sen. Gayle Goldin (D-Providence), Sen. Daniel DaPonte (D-Pawtucket), and Sen. Louis DiPalma (D-Little Compton/Middletown).
Effects: To date, the Iran Divestiture Act has not resulted in any divestment. (5) Rhode Island lawmakers who voted for the bill maintain that its intangible effect of rallying state legislatures behind the cause and establishing guidelines for investment prove the bill’s success.