(SACRAMENTO, CA)— Assembly Bill (AB) 2160 passed with a 60-5 vote, over the objections of the insurance industry. The vote occurred on the heels of the U.S. Senate backing sanctions on any country or company that enters joint ventures with Iran’s energy sector, and after lackluster United Nations Security Council negotiations over the inspection of Iranian nuclear facilities. AB 2160 now moves to the California State Senate for further review.
“Iran’s instability and nuclear ambitions are a threat to world peace,” said Blumenfield. “California must take a stronger stand to confront Iran as it defies the will of nations around the world in its pursuit of a nuclear weapon. This bill will help reduce resources aiding Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon.”
AB 2160 would prohibit California-based insurance companies from scoring as assets any investments in companies that do business with Iran’s energy sector on documents filed with the Department of Insurance. These filings protect policyholders by having each insurer demonstrate financial solvency and, therefore, the ability to provide insurance in California. The state has already developed a list of companies with financial ties to Iran according to a state law authored by Blumenfield and Feuer two years ago. This list would be the basis for disallowing certain investments by insurers as ineligible assets. Approximately 160 California-based insurance companies would be affected.
“As one of the world’s largest economies, California should take a meaningful stand against companies that choose to fund the nuclear ambitions of Iran’s brutal, repressive regime,” said Feuer. “Insurers can invest profitably without supporting Iran’s extremist activities, and California must encourage such investments.”
Stopping insurance industry investments in Iran has been an ongoing fight 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. 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.
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.
AB 2160 is supported by the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California, American Veterans of California, and United Against a Nuclear Iran.