Ohio House Committee Considering Legislation To Defund Iran
House Resolution strengthening Ohio's terrorism divestiture laws receives a hearing
April 20, 2016
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Yesterday the Ohio House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee heard testimony on House Joint Resolution 6, also known as “Defund Iran,” which will put an initiative on the November ballot to strengthen Ohio’s terrorism divestiture laws to prevent the federal government from forcing the state to do business with Iran.

This legislation, sponsored by State Representative Terry Johnson (R-McDermott), is in response to the recent Iranian nuclear deal that was made by President Obama. The federal agreement contains language that specifies that the federal government will use “all available authorities” to ensure that states lift their sanctions imposed on Iran.

The proposed “Defund Iran” ballot initiative, if passed, will amend the Ohio Constitution to prohibit tax money and pension money from being directly invested in companies that have active business operations in countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism, such as Iran.

Although Ohio already has anti-terrorism provisions in law, legislators such as Johnson say that including these provisions in the state constitution will diminish the federal government’s ability to force Ohio to do business with Iran. Johnson made the following statement on the issue:

“Ohio’s legislature has no single greater responsibility than overseeing and protecting the state pension systems. In my mind, there is nothing riskier than investing the hard earned money of Ohio’s retired citizens in radical and extreme nations who want to destroy us, and in the case of Iran, a nation that has actually been responsible for the deaths and the maiming of hundreds of American service members. This constitutional amendment will put the decision where it most properly belongs; in the hands of Ohio’s voters. I am confident that they will make the right decision.”

Some speculate that the federal government may simply remove Iran from the list of state sponsors of terrorism to force investment within the country. In this event, HJR 6 stipulates that the Ohio General Assembly must vote with a two-thirds majority to concur with the federal government’s actions in order to resume business activity with that country.

Currently, 30 states and Washington, D.C. have worked on or passed similar reform efforts.

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