Kansas Bill Aims to Divest Pension Money from Iran

480px-Seal_of_Kansas.svg

Kansas lawmakers on Wednesday considered a bill that would force the state’s pension system to divest from companies that are invested heavily in Iran’s petroleum industry, according to a report from the Lawrence Journal-World.

The bill was examined and debated by members of the House Pensions and Benefits Committee. A committee vote on the measure could come as soon as Friday.

More from the Associated Press:

The bill, which comes amid a spat between Republicans and Democrats in Washington over President Barack Obama’s handling of Iran, would require the pension system to sell stock in any companies that had invested $20 million or more in Iran’s petroleum industry since 1996. That would immediately impact the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System’s $68.5 million investments in Royal Dutch Shell, Total and Toyota.

KPERS would be required to notify those companies of the move, and if the companies did not divest from Iran voluntarily, KPERS would be forced to sell their stock within 12 months.

Republican Rep. Scott Schwab of Olathe, who sponsored the bill in the Pensions and Benefits Committee, said it would keep Kansas public employees from unwittingly contributing to Iran’s economy and reduce the pension fund’s investment risk should relations with Iran deteriorate.

“You’re also protecting our assets because if we do go to war with Iran — I believe that day will come, I think there will be a day that we go to war with Iran — they’re not going to gobble up our resources,” Schwab said.

KPERS executive director Alan Conroy told the AP that the move to divest would carry costs, including $8,000 in research expenses.

Additionally, he predicted up to $2.6 million in investment losses from being forced to sell positions in major companies like Toyota and Royal Dutch Shell.

 

Photo credit: “Seal of Kansas” by Sagredo. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Seal_of_Kansas.svg#mediaviewer/File:Seal_of_Kansas.svg

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