More reasons to reject Mandel/Jones bill for Iran divestment as currently drafted

[Note: the original post referred erroneously to SB 151, the correct bill is HB 151]

There’s been questioning of the need for and efficacy of a state bill to force Ohio’s pensions to divest of investment connected to companies that do business in Iran. But despite the bill’s sponsors’ description of such investments as immoral, they’ve still not divested from such companies themselves. That’s just one conundrum dragging down this otherwise admirable effort to deprive Iran of economic support.

Kathy Bracy, who maintains this excellent education-oriented blog, offers the following MUST read posts for those who want to understand, directly from the pension caretakers themselves, as to why the bill being promoted by State Reps. Josh Mandel and Shannon Jones needs to be re-drafted or rejected:

1. Here, which includes the following summary of reasons against HB 151:

The three primary concerns raised with legislators are: (1) the money in the trust fund belongs to the participants — this divestiture mandate puts a foreign policy objective above the board’s fiduciary duty to invest in the sole interest of the membership; (2) there will be significant costs of complying with this mandate, costs borne by the membership and not the public; and (3) the bill sets a dangerous precedent of using trust fund money to achieve political or social agendas.

2. Here, which includes testimony from the Exec. Dir. of STRS that urges the GA to reconsider how the bill is currently structured to achieve its admirable goals and work to change that structure.


3. Here, which includes a review of the legislation by the STRS Board.

As noted in those posts, no one argues with the ideological goal of stripping Iran of economic support so long as it continues to defy worldwide desires for it to de-escalate its nuclear program and extremist rhetoric against the West. But before making a bill law, it should be made to be the best possible vehicle the Ohio legislature can make it. And these two freshman seem to be participating more in grandstanding than goal accomplishment.

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