Sunday, March 14, 2010

Senator Ted Deutch Introduces New Legislation, Presses on State of Florida to Prevent Taxpayer Dollars from Supporting Iran

State Senator Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton) is introducing new vital legislation and stepping up pressure on the State of Florida to restrict taxpayer funding for corporations doing business with Iran. The timeliness of Senator Deutch’s efforts is bolstered by a newly released report from The New York Times detailing how the federal government has awarded over $107 billion within the past decade to companies engaged in business with Iran. Included in that $107 billion is $15 billion for companies that financially support Iran’s energy sector – a direct violation of U.S. sanctions law.

Senator Deutch’s newly introduced legislation, co-sponsored by Representative Kevin Rader in the Florida House, prevents state agencies from entering into, awarding, or renewing a contract with any company doing business, either directly or indirectly, with Iran. SB 2520 is modeled on Congressman Ron Klein’s federal legislation, “The Accountability for Business Choices in Iran Act,” a measure praised by Senator Deutch.

“The fact that the United States government has provided American tax dollars to companies that directly support the Iranian nuclear program is illogical, immoral, and a direct affront to the security interests of our nation and of our allies, including Israel,” said Senator Deutch. “Florida need not stand by while the federal government fails to enforce serious economic sanctions on Iran. Just this week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the 9/11 attacks on America a lie, and he shows no signs of retreating from his previous call to wipe Israel off the map. Iran is sliding towards a military dictatorship built on defiance of the international community and the oppression of its own people, and Florida taxpayers have no interest in financially supporting this dangerous regime.”

In congruence with his legislative efforts, Senator Deutch is pressing the State of Florida to ensure taxpayers are not supporting the Iranian regime. Senator Deutch has sent a letter to Governor Charlie Crist, following up on his previous request that the Governor halt Vitol, formerly Iran’s largest supplier of refined petroleum, from using public funds to open a terminal at Florida’s Port Canaveral. He also urges the Governor to review all current state contracts and refuse any new state contracts with companies under scrutiny by the federal government for supporting Iran.

Senator Deutch has also sent a letter to Ash Williams, Executive Director of the State Board of Administration, urging him to expedite the availability of a terror-free retirement option for Florida workers. In his letter, Senator Deutch emphasizes the fact that legislation signed into law last year by Governor Crist requires this terror-free option to be available by March 1, 2010.

Both of Senator Deutch’s letters are attached to this release.

Senator Deutch is a leading voice on national security issues in the Florida State Senate. In 2007, he won national and international recognition for passing the "Protecting Florida's Investments Act," which made Florida the first state in the nation to divest pension funds from companies doing business with Iran and Sudan. Since its passage, Florida has divested over $1.2 billion from scrutinized companies, and nearly 20 state governments have followed Senator Deutch's lead by enacting similar legislation. Senator Deutch also passed legislation requiring Florida to offer investors in its state pension fund a terror free option that does not invest in Iran or Sudan.

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