Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Georgia Passes Divestment Legislation

This passed under the radar as far as any mainstream media is concerned, but on April 2, 2008, the Georgia House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the “Protecting Georgia’s Investment Act” introduced by state senator Don Balfour (R-Snellville). The bill must now be signed by Georgia governor Sonny Perdue before it becomes law.

The legislation, SB 451, requires boards administering public retirement funds in Georgia to identify all companies making investments in Iran. The bill also defines “scrutinized companies” that have, with actual knowledge, invested $20 million or more in Iran's petroleum sector since 1996.

Senator Balfour touted the bill, “U.S. soldiers are being killed and maimed in Iraq and Afghanistan with IEDs and weapons provided by Iran to terrorists. In my mind, the state of Georgia shouldn't be doing business with companies that are doing business in Iran. It is an unstable, pro-terrorist nation, and we shouldn't be risking our retirement funds there.”

Currently, Georgia has $565,261,350 invested in companies, such as Royal Dutch Shell and Enersis SA, that are actively doing business in Iran. Senator Balfour argues that neighboring state Florida has “successfully enacted similar divestment legislation” and hasn’t “suffered any negative financial consequences.” He added, “I am confident that we won't see any drop in our investments, while at the same time we are sending a clear message, ‘We will not willfully invest in anti-American countries that support terrorist activities.'"

I wonder if Senator Balfour knows that one of the two most consistently present companies in Iran that has manufactured and sold its product there, even during and following the Islamic Revolution, is Coca Cola (the other is Pepsi). While SB 451 won’t really affect Coca Cola’s business in Iran, it’s still worth pointing out that despite this new legislation, Georgia will still continue to have profitable investments in Iran through one of its most reknown companies.

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