Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
June 21, 2007
Contact:(512) 463-0113

Senator Ellis joins Governor Perry at Sudan Sanctions Bill Signing

HOUSTON -- Senator Ellis (D-Houston) joined Governor Rick Perry, Senator Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) and Representative Corbin Van Arsdale (R-Houston) at a bill signing for the "Stop the Genocide Act" at the Houston Holocaust Museum. The Sudan sanctions legislation will require 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 Petroleo Brasilero (Brazil), Qatar Petroleum, China Petroleum, and PetroChina. Schlumberger Ltd., an oil field services firm that has a large presence in Houston, has recently been removed from the "highest offender" list meaning that ERS and TRS would not have to divest their considerable holdings in that company.

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."