Blumenfield, Feuer Target Insurance Industry Ties with Iran

Assemblymembers Bob Blumenfield (D-San Fernando Valley) and Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) introduced legislation today to further reduce California’s financial ties with Iran by discouraging California-based insurance companies from investing in companies with financial ties to Iran. “Iran’s nuclear ambitions pose a threat to world stability now more than ever,” said Blumenfield. “California must join the wave of new economic sanctions imposed by nations around the world to stop Iran. We can make an impact and be a force for peace by broadening our stand against this reckless regime.”

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Assembly Bill (AB) 2160 would prohibit California-based insurance companies from scoring indirect investments in Iran – or investments in companies that do business with Iran – on documents filed with the Department of Insurance that demonstrate financial solvency and, therefore, the ability to provide insurance in California. The bill would impact approximately 160 California-based insurance companies. “As one of the world’s largest economies, California can take a meaningful stand against companies that choose to fund the nuclear ambitions of Iran’s brutal, repressive regime,” said Feuer. “Insurers can make profitable investments without supporting that country’s extremist activities, and California must encourage those investments.”

Stopping insurance industry investments in Iran has been an ongoing fight in California. In January of this year, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones reached a settlement with the insurance industry stipulating that the names of California insurers with financial ties to Iran may be collected and published. AB 2160 would empower the Commissioner to use this list as a basis to disallow investments in Iran from assets that would otherwise contribute to evaluation of the financial solvency of insurers as a condition for operating in California. In 2009, then Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, found that insurers licensed to do business in California held $2 billion worth of indirect investments in companies tied to Iran. On January 10, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the Iranian Government’s decision to begin weapons grade, uranium enrichment operations at its Qom facility.

Iran concealed the existence of the Qom facility from international inspectors for years and only recently acknowledged its existence. Iran continues to deny any link between Qom and military ambitions. Blumenfield and Feuer have long worked to curtail California’s financial ties with Iran. In 2011, they authored AB 1151 which increases transparency on California’s largest public pension funds as they divest from Iran. In 2010, they authored AB 1650 which prohibits the state and local governments from pursuing contracts with companies that do business in Iran’s energy sector. AB 1650 has become a model now being replicated in states across the country. Further information is available at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov.

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