Senator Van Taylor Files Terror State Divestment Bills

AUSTIN, TX - State Senator Van Taylor today filed SB 253, the Terror State Divestiture Act, and SB 252, the Terror State Contracting Divestiture Act, strengthening Texas' current Iranian and Sudanese divestiture standards. Recognizing the changing geopolitical landscape, these bills also expand Texas' current divesture policy by prohibiting state investment in companies that do business with a foreign terrorist organization designated by the U.S. State Department.
 
"I will never forget the first time I walked into Second Force Reconnaissance Company’s Headquarters, at Camp Lejeune, NC. It held a memorial to some of the 220 Marines killed by Iranian terrorists in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983. The inscription read, 'They Came in Peace.' Shockingly, only a few months later in Iraq my unit confronted Iranian funded agitators, spies, and anti-American protesters," stated Taylor. "Our divestment policies in Texas have both tangible and symbolic significance. To date, over 9 million taxpayer dollars have been divested from Iran and it also serves as sign of Texas' commitment to an American foreign policy rooted in unwavering support for Israel."
 
SB 253, the Terror State Divestiture Act, builds on Texas' current Iranian and Sudanese divestiture standards to encompass all state and local funds, rather than just retirement funds. This change would apply to funds in the state treasury, public investment pools, as well as those invested by local governments. 
 
SB 252, the Terror State Contracting Divestiture Act, prohibits a state agency, city, county, school district, special district, and the legislature from contracting with a business for goods or services, including public works projects, if that business is engaged in business operations with the Sudanese or Iranian governments, or a foreign terrorist organization designated by the U.S. State Department. While state retirement systems are currently prohibited from investing in companies that do business with the Sudanese or Iranian governments, there is nothing preventing state agencies and political subdivisions of this state from using taxpayer dollars to contract with these same companies. This change to Texas' contracting law closes the contracting loophole while ensuring that taxpayer dollars are not spent on countries that sponsor terrorism.
 
Senator Taylor continued, "Texas must build on our previous divestment measures and remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure not one dime of taxpayer money goes to companies profiting off terrorist regimes or organizations with the goal of harming Americans or destroying our way of life."
 
In 2013 then-Representative Van Taylor authored the amendment to then-Senator Dan Patrick's (R-Houston) legislation, Senate Bill 200 (83R), to divest state pension funds from companies doing business with Iran or Sudan. The Taylor Amendment passed the House overwhelmingly by a vote of 130-9 and SB 200 (83R) passed the Senate unanimously as amended. Since then, over 9 million taxpayer dollars have been divested from Iran.
 
A seventh generation Texan, local small businessman, and decorated Marine Officer, Van Taylor serves the majority of Collin County and a portion of Dallas County in the Texas Senate where he is widely recognized as a conservative leader. Taylor serves as Vice-Chairman of both the Nominations Committee and the Sunset Advisory Commission. He is also as a member of the Education, Health and Human Services, and Transportation Committees as well as the interim Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief. Van and his wife, Anne, married after his return from Iraq and are the proud parents of three young girls. Van and his family reside in Plano near the land his great-grandfather farmed during the Great Depression.
 
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