State poised to enact landmark Iran sanctions

State poised to enact landmark Iran sanctions

Bill to block business with NJ contractors awaits Assembly vote

The state Assembly scheduled a vote on an Iran sanctions bill for June 28, postponing action on a bill that passed in the Senate on June 25.

Leaders of the state’s Jewish community and allies gathered in the Statehouse in Trenton Monday hoping to celebrate the legislation, which would prevent companies doing business in New Jersey from contracting with Iran’s finance or energy sectors.

The state Senate unanimously passed the measure that morning. However, the Assembly put off its evening vote on the measure until later in the week, citing scheduling issues.

Nevertheless, supporters looked forward to the bill’s passage.

“We are at a pinnacle moment in history,” said Jim Daniels, chair of the Stop Iran Now Task Force of the Community Relations Committee of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest and Central New Jersey.

“It’s a critical time in our fight against a nuclear Iran,” he noted. “Iran has remained steadfast in its determination to achieve nuclear capability and develop advanced rocket systems to weaponize that technology. It is imperative that sanctions are implemented at all levels — federal, state, and local — to ensure that we keep economic pressure on Iran.”

The bill, introduced by Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Dist. 27), has bipartisan support, and is expected to easily pass. Gov. Chris Christie is expected to sign the measure.

It would make New Jersey the sixth state after New York, Florida, California, Indiana, and Maryland to enact such legislation.

However, New Jersey would become the first state to bring its sanction threshold in line with lower federal limits expected to be in effect by the end of the summer. Legislation requiring President Barack Obama to sanction companies that make an “investment” in Iran of more than $5 million (reduced from $20 million) has already passed the House and Senate and is now in conference before being sent to Obama.

McKeon said he proposed the state legislation because the threat posed by a nuclear-armed Iran is a global one.

“We must stand together as Americans,” he told NJJN while on a break in the legislative session. A nuclear Iran would pose a danger to “not just the United States, not just Israel, but for the entire free world.”

Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R-Dist. 21), the legislation’s prime Senate sponsor, said the measure would hold Iran and its partners accountable for its actions.

“It shows that we in New Jersey can have a positive impact on world affairs,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do ethically, the right thing to do philosophically and the right thing to do economically.”

The New Jersey State Association of Jewish Federations helped bring together a broad array of backers for the bill, ranging from the Orthodox Union to the New Jersey Catholic Conference.

“Iran needs to be taught that the state of New Jersey doesn’t do business with those that do business with the state of Iran, ” said Josh Pruzansky, the Orthodox Union’s director of public affairs and public policy for New Jersey.

Catholic Conference executive director Patrick Brannigan commended the bills’ sponsors.

“By continuing to place barriers to the international effort to curb the expansion of nuclear weapons, Iran has not been a responsible neighbor,” he said. “The policies of the current leadership in Iran represent a danger to all people, not just those who live in Israel.”

Daniels said the state was a leader in the fight to stand up to Iran and its threats.

“We are very proud of our state, which was one of the first states to pass Iranian divestment legislation three years ago and has divested more than $14.5 million shares worth $489.1 million,” he added, “and continues to lead the nation against Iran’s hostile regime, which has threatened the West, Gulf states, and Israel and is one of the worst human rights violators worldwide.”

In addition to Kean, Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Dist. 3) is a prime sponsor of the bill. In the assembly, prime sponsors also include 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).

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