Rep. Kim Thatcher on Iran Divesture Bill

By State Representative Kim Thatcher: (Salem) “Whereas the Oregon State Treasurer is encouraged to use any means available”¦ to discourage investments with companies doing business with Iran.” That’s the conclusion of House Joint Resolution 50 presented to the House Rules Committee this afternoon by State Representative Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer, St. Paul, Newberg)

“I think we can agree that Oregon’s retirees want a good rate of return on investments, but I don’t believe they want that happening on the backs of those brutalized by this oppressive regime, especially when other business strategies are available,” said Thatcher during her testimony to the Rules Committee today.

Around a dozen other states have already enacted legislation to divest their state’s holdings from Iran. Earlier this week a congressional committee approved a resolution allowing state and local government to divest public funds from companies doing business in Iran.

Oregon has more than $50 billion dollars in its investment funds and the latest figures indicate Oregon may have around $300 million invested in Iran and be doing business with at least 87 companies with ties to that country.

Thatcher told the committee HJR 50 is designed to “persuade the Treasurer to make investments as he sees fit, with an eye toward discouraging investments in terrorist nations like Iran.” She added, “in fact there may be things the treasurer can do by withdrawing funds from Iran and investing them someplace else that would help grow the value of the State’s retirement fund and other programs.”

There are two Senate Bills working their way through the legislative process which also call for zero tolerance on Iran investments. Senate Bill 470 and Senate Bill 633 sponsored by Senator Brian Boquist (R-Dallas) and Senator Jason Atkinson (R-Central Point).

HJR 50 is similar to a measure Thatcher sponsored in 2007. Last year Thatcher pressured the Oregon Investment Council to change their divestiture policies. The Council adopted new language to recognize the “political, social and legal circumstance in various nations and regions of the world may impact the productivity and prudence of investments.”

Oregon was among the first states to adopt an anti-apartheid law against South Africa back in 1987 and in 1995 another divestment policy was enacted against the Sudan over the genocide in Darfur. Thatcher has been working with the Jewish Federation of Portland and Christians United for Israel on the Iran legislation.