SACRAMENTO, CA – The California State Senate passed the Turkish Divestment Bill, AB 1320, on September 11, with 33 out of 40 State Senators voting in favor and the remaining 7 abstaining, reported the Armenian Assembly of America. CA State Senator Andreas Borgeas (R-8), whose district covers California's San Joaquin Valley, served as the floor manager of this bill. AB 1320 now moves back to the California State Assembly, where it has enjoyed broad bipartisan support, for a concurrence vote before it is sent to California Governor Gavin Newsom's desk.
Formally known as the "Public employee retirement systems: prohibited investments: Turkey" bill, this legislation was introduced and principally authored by California State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian (D-46). The bill would prohibit California's public employment retirement agencies - CalPERS and CalSTRS - from making new investments or renewing existing investments in Turkish government-issued and controlled debt securities and bonds, pending U.S. government sanctions on Turkey for the latter's state-sponsored denial of the Armenian Genocide.
In addition to Assemblymember Nazarian, AB 1320 was co-introduced by State Assemblymembers Laura Friedman (D-43) and Jesse Gabriel (D-45), principally co-authored by State Senator Anthony Portantino (D-25), and co-authored by State Senator Scott Wilk (R-21) and State Assemblymembers Phillip Chen (R-55), Luz Rivas (D-39), and Chris Holden (D-41).
Prior to this vote, AB 1320 was approved on August 30 by the CA State Senate Appropriations Committee, on July 2 by the CA State Senate Judiciary Committee, and on June 26 by the CA State Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement (LPER) Committee. Significantly, Armenian Assembly of America Southern California Regional Council member, Helen Haig, jointly testified with Assemblymember Nazarian about the moral and economic merits of AB 1320 during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and vote, while Armenian Assembly Western Region Director, Mihran Toumajan, joined Assemblymember Nazarian to testify before the Senate LPER Committee's hearing and vote.
"On behalf of Armenian Assembly of America activists and members in the State of California, we extend our gratitude to CA State Assembymember Nazarian for authoring and shepherding this bill in both state legislative chambers," stated Armenian Assembly of America Western Region Director Toumajan.
"I am hopeful that Governor Newsom will approve this legislation, which would ultimately send a strong message to the Government of Turkey. The fifth largest economy in the globe - the State of California - deplores Ankara's state-sponsored denial of the Armenian Genocide, its publicly-known aiding and abetting of terrorist groups like ISIL and al-Qaeda, and its continued human rights violations towards its own Kurdish and Christian minorities, in addition to Muslim and Christian populations living in neighboring Iraq and Syria," Toumajan added.