Jewish community executive Max Kleinman offered testimony June 14 at a New Jersey Assembly State Government Committee hearing on legislation on Iran certification and sanctions.
The committee unanimously approved the bill, A-2146, which would prohibit NJ government contracting units from entering into contracts with companies doing business with Iran’s energy sector.
The legislation mirrors S-1304, which was advanced by the Senate Government and Wagering Committee and awaits review by the Senate’s Budget and Appropriations Committee.
Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Dist. 27), who introduced the legislation, told the committee June 14 that “Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons under the guise of their petroleum industry. The legislation targets those doing business with Iran’s energy sector, making them ineligible for contracting with the State of New Jersey and our governmental units.”
“New Jersey has played a leading role in addressing the dangers of a nuclear Iran by enacting its own divestment law back in 2008,” said Kleinman, executive vice president of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ, during the hearing. “More than $14.5 million in state investments have already been withdrawn from Iran.”
A person wishing to secure a contract with the state, counties, or municipalities would first have to certify to the state treasurer that they are not doing business in excess of $20 million with Iran’s energy sector.
“Although the monetary threshold seems high, the federal law mandates the threshold,” said Jacob Toporek, executive director of the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations. “We are pleased that Assemblyman McKeon and the state Senate’s prime sponsor, Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R-Dist. 21), accepted our suggestion that the two bills provide for an automatic lowering of the threshold should Congress approve pending legislation decreasing it to $5 million.”
The Stop Iran Now task force of the Community Relations Committee of MetroWest and Central NJ is urging swift passage of this bill before the summer recess at the end of June. “As the international community gears up for another round of peace talks in Moscow, we must do all we can at the local level to put pressure on Iran to stop them from having nuclear capacity,” said Task Force chair Jim Daniels.
Citing Iran’s international reputation as a dangerous and irresponsible state actor with an abusive human rights record, Kleinman told the committee: “You can help change the course of history by presenting businesses with a clear choice: Conduct business with Iran or conduct business with the people of New Jersey.”
In addition to Kean, Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Dist. 3) is a prime sponsor of S-1304; along with McKeon, Assembly members who are prime sponsors of A-2146 are Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Dist. 21), Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Dist. 37), Mila Jasey (D-Dist. 27), Annette Quijano (D-Dist. 20), and Troy Singleton (D-Dist. 7).