Sunday, March 25, 2007

Texas Senate approves bill telling funds to divest from Sudan

March 20, 2007, 3:14PM

AUSTIN — The Texas Senate unanimously passed a bill on Tuesday that would require two state pension funds to divest from companies doing business with the Sudanese government.

Texas is among a growing number of states seeking to limit or end investment with companies in Sudan, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million been chased from their homes since 2003 because of civil strife. The United States has deemed the murders genocide and has largely blamed the Sudanese government and government-backed militias.

Sen. Florence Shapiro likened the massacres to the Holocaust, which claimed the lives of about 40 of her relatives, including a grandfather, grandmother and an aunt.

"Today we are in the same place, we are back standing together, Jews and non-Jews, Republicans and Democrats, males and females, urban and rural and we are saying loud and clear — never again," said Shapiro, a Republican from Plano.

The proposal now goes to the Texas House of Representatives, where about four dozen lawmakers are co-sponsoring an identical bill.

The measure directs the pension funds for retired teachers and retired state employees to divest from certain international companies that engage in business operations with Sudan's government or have significant involvement in oil related activities or supplying military equipment within the African nation.