Florida House passes expansion to restrictions on state investments on businesses with ties to Iran

Iranian flag
Iran flag by Rainer Puster via iStock for WMNF News

The Florida House on Tuesday almost unanimously passed a bill that would expand restrictions on state investments in businesses with ties to Iran.

The House voted 100-2 to approve the measure (HB 5C), setting it up for final passage by the Senate as soon as Wednesday.

The bill is part of a special legislative session that started Monday.

The bill would expand a 2007 law that requires the State Board of Administration, which manages Florida’s massive pension fund and other investments, to divest from what are known as “scrutinized” companies with links to Iran’s petroleum industry.

Certain financial criteria are used in determining whether companies land on the scrutinized list.

Under the bill, the investment restrictions would expand to other types of industries, such as the financial, construction, manufacturing, textile and manufacturing sectors.

The bill stems from the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, a Palestinian militant group backed by Iran.

Bill sponsor John Snyder, R-Stuart, said lawmakers would be sending a “clear message that Florida will not be in the business of funding terrorism.”

The federal government has had extensive economic sanctions against Iran for decades.

Snyder acknowledged Monday he did not know how many companies the bill could affect.

The dissenting votes were cast Tuesday by Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, and Rep. Angie Nixon, D-Jacksonville.

Eskamani, an Iranian American whose parents fled Iran, expressed concerns that the bill could hurt people in Iran, such as small-business owners, who are not involved in terrorism.

She also pointed to concerns that the bill was “politically motivated,” rather than about policy.

Snyder, however, said the bill is aimed at companies with links to the government of Iran.

“We’re not targeting innocent small businesses here,” Snyder said.

©2023 The News Service of Florida

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