INDIANAPOLIS - The Sudan divestment bill gained a surprising resurrection April 2 on the floor of the State Senate.
During the session, Sen. Greg Walker of Columbus introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 74, a compromise on the divestment of state pension funds from investing in Sudan. He then said a morning news story stated that five African Union peace keeping troops were killed by unidentified militia in Darfur and asked that the resolution be withdrawn in the hopes that the language of the stronger House Bill 1484, the Sudan divestment bill, would move forward in statute.
Sen. David Long of Fort Wayne, president pro tempore of the Senate, then took the podium and stated that Sen. Dennis Kruse of Auburn, chairman of the Senate Pension and Labor Committee, held back the language because of a number of fiscal concerns. Following a meeting March 29 with national and state advocates in the Sudan divestment movement, a number of those concerns were on their way to being addressed, and that he was in favor of getting this language into statute during the conference committee process in the days ahead.
The Sudan Divest bill (House Bill 1484) was killed in the Senate Pensions and Labor Committee hearing on March 28. Sen. Kruse of Auburn, as committee chair, decided not to hear the bill, thereby allowing it to die in committee without a vote in the Senate.
The bill mandates the state's two pension retirement funds (the Public Employees' Retirement Fund and Teachers Retirement Fund) to divest their funds from any company doing military business with the Sudanese government. One of several strategies being use to force the Sudanese government from carry out its genocidal policies against Sudanese citizens living in Darfur where more than 400,000 have been murdered or died and more than 2.5 million have been displaced having been burned out of their village homes.
The bill was approved earlier this session in the State House of Representatives with a 97-0 vote.
PERF is one of the oldest and largest public or private pension funds in the nation, with more than $16 billion in assets. More than 1,100 employers, including the State of Indiana and public universities, school corporations and municipalities throughout the state.
The Sudan Divestment legislation in the Indiana General Assembly has been led in part by Beth Reilly, a member of Aldersgate UMC in Fort Wayne and the Rev. Darren Cushman Wood of Speedway UMC working with other faith groups and many legislators. Both are participating in plans for an interfaith rally on the Darfur Crisis scheduled to be held Sunday, April 15 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. on the east steps of the State House on Capitol Street.
Speakers and bands will both entertain and inform participants about genocide in Darfur. Darfurian immigrants now living in Fort Wayne also plan to take part. The rally is open and free to the pubic. A brochure about the rally is available online at www.inareaumc.org. More information about the Darfur crisis can be found by logging on to www.savedarfur.org.