Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More Truth about our Divestment Legislation

Truth 3: House Bill 287/Senate Bill 227 proposes divestment legislation that is constitutional, NOT unconstitutional.
In his testimony before the House State Affairs Committee and against HB 287, Brian Andrews, with the Alaska Retirement Board brought up the divestment bill that was passed in Illinois and then thrown out for being unconstitutional. He, like Mr. Burns from the Permanent Fund, was talking about an orange, when the fruit under question is the apple.

The Illinois legislation WAS unconstitutional (and, yes, it was blanket divestment, not targeted). It attempted, among other things, to impose sanctions on banks and to regulate investments made by the state's municipalities. HB 287/SB 227 proposes none of the actions that were responsible for getting the Illinois legislation revoked. Illinois's intention was good, but its execution was deeply flawed.

Alaska's legislation has none of those flaws, largely due to Representative Lynn's office working with the Sudan Divestment Task Force (SDTF) from the very beginning to draft the legislation. The SDTF is a non-profit organization whose model for targeted divestment legislation has been used by 15 of the 22 states that have divested. The SDTF knows its stuff, and has been the leading force in the divestment campaign. For Alaska, we went with the best!

Mr. Andrews might not have been aware of another factor regarding constitutionality: the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act (SADA). On December 31, 2007, President Bush signed the SADA. The SADA authorizes and encourages states and other public entities using the targeted model to divest from Sudan. It also provides legal authorization and encouragement for states to adopt policies of targeted Sudan divestment. The bill, which passed both houses of Congress unanimously, also makes it easier for mutual funds and private pension fund managers to sell their investments and prohibits targeted companies from being eligible to receive contracts with the federal government.

Deliberation on legislation that offers a tool for combating genocide should involve the analysis of truths, not misinformation. May the truth prevail!