Today's Law As Amended

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AB-2650 Public employee retirement systems: prohibited investments: Turkey.(2015-2016)



SECTION 1.
 The Legislature finds and declares the following:
(a) The State of California has officially recognized the Armenian Genocide each year for decades and has repeatedly urged the Republic of Turkey to acknowledge the facts of the Armenian Genocide and work toward a just resolution, honor its obligations under international treaties and human rights laws, end all forms of religious discrimination and persecution, and return Christian church properties to their rightful owners.
(b) Genocide is defined by the United Nations as an act “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”
(c) Genocide denial is widely viewed as among the final stages of genocide and serves to perpetuate the effects of genocide even after the active phases of extermination, massacres, forced marches, and deportation have ended.
(d) The government of Turkey has engaged and continues to engage in an ongoing campaign of genocide denial and historical revisionism by refusing to acknowledge its responsibility for the Armenian Genocide, refusing to compensate its victims, and actively pursuing a well-funded political lobbying campaign throughout the United States, including in California, to rewrite history and defeat legislation recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
(e) The government of Turkey has engaged and continues to engage in efforts to effect Armenian cultural erasure since the founding of the Republic of Turkey, including, but not limited to, ethnic cleansings and the destruction of sacred Armenian religious sites.
(f) Reference in Turkey by any scholar, journalist, or other person to the massacre and deportation of Armenians in 1915 to 1923, inclusive, as genocide can be criminally prosecuted under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code.
(g) The State of California is home to the largest Armenian American population in the United States, and Armenians living in California, most of whom are direct descendants of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide, have enriched our state through their leadership and contributions in business, agriculture, academia, government, and the arts, yet continue to suffer the effects of the continued denial campaign by the government of Turkey.
(h) The State of California, as the world’s eighth largest economy, and in accordance with principles of human rights and justice, has taken the lead in adopting legislation to divest from South Africa for its policy of apartheid, Sudan for its genocide in Darfur, and Iran for its support of international terrorism, imposing economic consequences upon regimes that engage in conduct and policy that violate human rights or constitute crimes against humanity.
(i) The State of California, through its Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) and its State Teachers’ Retirement System (STRS), directly invests public funds in the government of Turkey, which then reaps profits while actively denying the Armenian Genocide, funding its continued campaign of denial, at least in part, through these investments in its economy.
(j) By investing public funds in the government of Turkey, the State of California as the embodiment of its citizens contradicts its longstanding, just position of recognizing the Armenian Genocide and urging the government of Turkey to acknowledge its responsibility and work toward a just resolution by honoring its obligations under international treaties and human rights laws, to end all forms of religious discrimination and persecution, and to return Christian church properties to their rightful owners.
(k) It is the government of Turkey, not the people of Turkey, that is responsible for Turkey’s continued egregious violations of human rights and active pursuit of genocide denial, cultural erasure, and historical revisionism.
(l) PERS currently has investment holdings in bonds directly issued by the Republic of Turkey in excess of $185,000,000.
(m) STRS currently has investment holdings in bonds directly issued by the Republic of Turkey in excess of several hundred million dollars.
(n) Investment in the Republic of Turkey enables its government to continue to deny justice to the Armenian people.
(o) Divesting these funds would ensure that the State of California is in no way complicit in the continued denial of the Armenian Genocide by the government of Turkey and would encourage said government to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and to reach a fair and just resolution of reparations for the survivors of the Armenian Genocide.

SEC. 2.

 Section 7513.76 is added to the Government Code, to read:

7513.76.
 (a) As used in this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
(c) The board shall liquidate investments in Turkey in an investment vehicle described in subdivision (b) within six months of the passage of a federal law imposing sanctions on Turkey. In making a determination whether to liquidate investments, the board shall constructively engage with the government of Turkey to establish whether the government of Turkey is transitioning to publicly accepting its responsibility for the Armenian Genocide.
(d) Within one year of the passage of a federal law imposing sanctions on Turkey, the board shall file a report with the Legislature, in compliance with Section 9795, and the Governor, that shall include the following:
(1) A list of investment vehicles in Turkey of which the board has liquidated its investments pursuant to subdivision (c).
(2) A list of investment vehicles in Turkey in connection with which the board engaged with the government of Turkey pursuant to subdivision (c), with supporting documentation to substantiate the board’s determination.
(3) A list of investment vehicles in Turkey of which the board has not liquidated its investments as a result of a determination made pursuant to subdivision (e) that a sale or transfer of investments is inconsistent with the fiduciary responsibilities of the board as described in Section 17 of Article XVI of the California Constitution and the board’s findings adopted in support of that determination.
(e) Nothing in this section shall require a board to take action as described in this section unless the board determines in good faith that the action described in this section is consistent with the fiduciary responsibilities of the board described in Section 17 of Article XVI of the California Constitution.

SEC. 3.

 Section 16642 of the Government Code is amended to read:

16642.
 Present, future, and former board members of the Public Employees’ Retirement System or the State Teachers’ Retirement System, jointly and individually, state officers and employees, research firms described in subdivision (d) of Section 7513.6, and investment managers under contract with the Public Employees’ Retirement System or the State Teachers’ Retirement System shall be indemnified from the General Fund and held harmless by the State of California from all claims, demands, suits, actions, damages, judgments, costs, charges charges,  and expenses, including court costs and attorney’s fees, and against all liability, losses, and damages of any nature whatsoever that these present, future, or former board members, officers, employees, research firms as described in subdivision (d) of Section 7513.6, or contract investment managers shall or may at any time sustain by reason of any decision to restrict, reduce, or eliminate investments pursuant to Sections 7513.6, 7513.7, 7513.75,  and 7513.75. 7513.76.