What's going on right now?
SB 1331, which would enable the Virginia Retirement System to divest from companies supporting genocide in Sudan, is in trouble in the Virginia Senate Rules Committee. The bill, introduced by Senator Ken Cuccinelli, was received unfavorably by the Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee but will still be coming to a vote in the committee on Monday. This vote is critical to moving our great commonwealth towards divestment.
One of the most promising tools Americans have for ending the genocide in Darfur is divestment. Divestment consists of shifting investments away from companies and organizations contributing to the ongoing travesty by doing business in Sudan that overwhelmingly benefits the government in Khartoum and its capacity to prosecute genocide. Only if a company refuses to change its behavior in response to shareholder engagement does the targeted divestment model call for divestment from that company.
Why does it work?
When an institution divests from these types of companies (so-called "worst offenders") demand for offending companies' stocks falls and share prices decline. Share price is further reduced by the presence of additional Sudan divestment campaigns, many of which are already in progress. To protect the value of shareholder investments, offending company executives would convey to the Sudanese government that perpetuation of genocide in Darfur is making the country an undesirable place to do business. As a result, either government behavior would change (in order to keep businesses in Sudan) or offending companies would leave Sudan, thereby withdrawing money that had been used to purchase military equipment for the genocide. Withdrawal of business investments from Sudan would simultaneously create an economic penalty for genocide and reduce Khartoum's ability to fund the campaign.
Why is Virginia important?
State pension funds hold enormous sums of money that can strongly influence corporate behavior, as they did to help end Apartheid in South Africa.
So what can I do?
Any contacts you can make with the members of the Rules Committee, listed below, today, over the weekend and first thing Monday morning would be most helpful.
Please tell them that you would like meaningful divestment legislation to be passed. SB1331 is fiscally responsible, will not hurt VA retirees and it is the only action Virginia can take that has been shown to have real potential to stop genocide in the Sudan (combined with divestment action in other states, localities and by universities).
We believe that this bill should get a vote in the Rules Committee. If it passes in Committee, it is most likely to pass on the Senate floor.Action: Call Committee members and urge them to vote in favor of SB 1331 anytime before or on Monday morning, February 5, 2007. The names and contact information for all committee members are listed below. You can also e-mail them letters and statements showcasing your support for the bill.
Chair, Senator Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (Chairman)
(R) - Senate District 3 (804) 698-7503
Senator Charles J. Colgan
(D) - Senate District 29 (804) 698-7529
Senator Richard L. Saslaw
(D) - Senate District 35 (804) 698-7535
Senator William C. Wampler, Jr.
(R) - Senate District 40 (804) 698-7540
Senator John H. Chichester
(R) - Senate District 28 (804) 698-7528
Senator Walter A. Stosch
(R) - Senate District 12 (804) 698-7512
Senator Frederick M. Quayle
(R) - Senate District 13 (804) 698-7513
Senator Charles R. Hawkins
(R) - Senate District 19 (804) 698-7519
Senator Kenneth W. Stolle
(R) - Senate District 8 (804) 698-7508
Senator Emmett W. Hanger, Jr.
(R) - Senate District 24 (804) 698-7524
Senator R. Edward Houck
(D) - Senate District 17 (804) 698-7517
Senator H. Russell Potts, Jr.
(R) - Senate District 27 (804) 698-7527
Senator Martin E. Williams
(R) - Senate District 1 (804) 698-7501
Senator Mary Margaret Whipple
(D) - Senate District 31 (804) 698-7531
Senator Stephen H. Martin
(R) - Senate District 11 (804) 698-7511
Let's show Virginia and the world that we care.
[x-posted watchdog_va, kumokasumi]