House Bill 2427, also known as Terror-Free Procurement, calls for Pennsylvania companies that transact more than $20 million with Iran’s energy sector to discontinue business with the country.
The bill is created to deter Iran from producing nuclear weapons and aiding terrorists. State Sen. Mike Stack has brought the same bill (Senate Bill 1543) to the Upper House.
The House will likely take up the legislation this fall after the budget is completed.
“The concern about Iran and the sponsorship of terrorism and its drive to become a nuclear power is a concern for all Pennsylvanians, regardless of political party,” Frankel said, “I would expect that it would get moving along [and] we can enact it into law.”
Frankel took the lead for the bill after discussing it with the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition (PJC).
“From the perspective of what we’re dealing with — with the threat to Israel, to the United States and to stability in the Middle East, we’re working with whatever tools that we have in order to put pressure on that regime to stop sponsoring terrorist organizations around the world and to stop their drive to attain nuclear weapons,” he said.
There is evidence that bills restricting Iran’s economy have worked in the past. “Iran is under enormous stress because of these sanctions,” Frankel said, adding that if all states as well as other countries joined together to enact this same type of precedent, then Iran will be under additional pressure.
The bill apparently enjoys bipartisan support; at this point, no opposition has come forward.
“We wanted to have bipartisanship on the bill, which we do have,” said PJC Director Hank Butler.
The State Senate passed a similar bill in 2010 — Senate Bill 928 — which called for divestment from oil, energy and weapons divisions in Iran and Sudan. That bill faced scrutiny because there were worries that it would take money away from the state pension fund. Frankel said that there is no evidence that there has been any negative impact on pensions due to that bill, and he does not foresee any adverse affects from this legislature either.
Frankel encourage the public to get involved in making sure that the bill gets passed.
“[For those] who are interested in seeing this legislation become law, [they should] contact their state senators and state representatives and the office of Gov. Corbett, asking them to support this legislation and enact it into law,” Frankel said. “Getting some advocacy behind the bill would be very helpful.”
Butler, who had discussed creating the bill with Frankel, said that the Squirrel Hill Democrat has been at the head of the issue, and that he thinks it has been a good opportunity to have the democratic caucus leaders’ help.
Butler is glad that the state government is making a statement showing what Pennsylvania has the ability to do.
“We want Pennsylvania to send a message not only to Iran, that their [nuclear] energy efforts will not be tolerated,” Butler said. “Also it’s a message to Washington, D.C., and to our federal legislators that Pennsylvania is unified.”
(Andrew Goldstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)