By Bob von Sternberg
Anticipating a Senate committee vote, Gov. Tim Pawlenty and six other governors sent a letter today to the chamber's leadership,to push for adoption of a bill designed to put economic pressure on Iran's leadership.
The bill, already overwhelmingly passed by the House, permits state and local governments to divest public funds from companies that do more than $20 million a year in business with Iran's energy sector.
State and local governments would acquire new legal authorities that would make it easier to divest from companies investing more than that sum in Iran's energy sector. The legislation extends legal protections to shield state and local governments, and investment fund managers, from lawsuits in response to divestment decisions.
If the bill becomes law, it would "address the growing threat" of Iran's "ever-expanding nuclear capabilities," the bipartisan group of governors wrote.
Thirteen states have already passed legislation authorizing the divestment of state funds from companies that have economic interests in the Iranian oil and natural gas sectors. Another six states, Minnesota among them, have adopted Iran divestment policies.
Also signing the letter were California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, and New York Governor David Paterson.