BRADENTON, Fla. — Florida officials amended the state's debt management policy to require that underwriters certify that they are not engaging in prohibited transactions with Iran or Sudan.
The new debt policy, which has applied to investments of state pension funds since 2007, was approved by members of the State Board of Administration during their regular meeting Aug. 20. The SBA oversees the Division of Bond Finance.
"We applaud the state of Florida in its effort to strengthen sanctions again Iran and Sudan," Greater Miami Jewish Federation Board Chairman Brian Bilzin told the SBA. "We're proud Florida is the first state in the country to take such action that effectively bars any company that does business with Iran in financial transactions."
More than 30 states are expected to follow Florida's example, according to Stanley Tate, chairman of Tate Enterprises, a real estate development and management company.
"I'm representing the prime minister of Israel who called and asked me to thank you for passing this act," said Tate, who also has been active in local and state politics. "I cannot tell you how important these sanctions are, and if there's ever going to be a prevention of a terrible holocaust it can be done through the sanctions. At least we can try."
The policy equates to a "moral issue," said Florida Gov. Rick Scott, chairman of the SBA. "We don't want Florida's tax dollars to be invested in businesses doing business with Iran and Sudan."
Ben Watkins, director of bond finance, said after the SBA meeting that U.S. companies already have to comply with federal law prohibiting them from engaging in transactions that involve Iran or Sudan.
Florida's debt management policy is designed to ensure that firms doing work on the state's bond transactions have "the institutional framework in place in an ongoing basis to ensure compliance," he said.
The new policy requires certification from underwriters during the selection process that they are not engaging in prohibited transactions with Iran or Sudan, according to the resolution adopted by the SBA.