House Passes Historic Sudan Sanctions Legislation
SB 247 on its way to the governor's desk
AUSTIN -- The Texas House today unanimously passed historic legislation by Senators Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) and Representative Corbin Van Arsdale (R-Houston) requiring state pension funds to divest from companies doing business in Sudan. The legislation now goes to Governor Rick Perry for final approval.
The legislation, SB 247, tightly targets divestment, focusing on those companies in Sudan with a business relationship with the Sudanese government, impart minimal benefit to the underprivileged and have expressed no corporate policy regarding the current situation in Sudan. The targeted divestment approach will help to maximize the impact on the Sudanese government while minimizing harm to the Sudanese civilians and investment returns.
"Today, Texas has taken a strong and historic stand against genocide," said Senator Ellis. "We have sent a message to the world that we will not tolerate turning a profit on genocide. We have turned up the economic pressure on Sudan and given other states a model to follow on how to act locally to impact a global issue."
Senate Bill 247 will require ERS and TRS only to divest from "listed" companies after a long period of engagement with those companies. No other state funds are included in the bill. Only international companies (not any US based companies) that engage in business operations with the government of Sudan or have significant involvement in oil related activities or supplying military equipment within Sudan are the target of divestment.
The legislation requires ERS and TRS to divest from those companies after a period of 15 months of engagement if those listed companies do not divest from Sudan or change their operations so that they will not benefit the government of Sudan. The bill will require the Comptroller to come up with a list of targeted companies that ERS and TRS will have to engage and possibly divest from those companies. Some of the companies that have suspect operations in Sudan include Schlumberger Ltd. (France), Rolls-Royce Group PLC (United Kingdom), Petroleo Brasilero (Brazil), Qatar Petroleum, China Petroleum, and PetroChina.
According to the Sudan Divestment Task Force, over the past four years, the Sudanese government and their allied organizations have killed more than 400,000 people and displaced more than 2.5 million in Sudan's Darfur region. The U.S. government has already declared these ongoing atrocities to be genocide. The U.N. has declared the crisis the "worst humanitarian disaster in the world today."