Floor Transcripts

LB 1066 (1994)

Select File

March 17, 1994


SPEAKER WITHEM:  You've heard the motion.  All in favor say aye.  Opposed.  It is advanced.  It is advanced.  LB 1066.


CLERK:  LB 1066, Mr. President, I do have E R amendments pending.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  Senator McKenzie.


SENATOR McKENZIE:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  I move the E & R amendments be adopted.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  You've heard the motion.  All in favor vote aye.  Opposed.  It is adopted.


CLERK:  Senator Hall, Lindsay and Chambers would move to amend.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  Senator Hall.


SENATOR HALL:  Thank you, Mr. President, and members, the amendment is found, I believe, on page 1256 of the Journal.  Thank you, Mr. Clerk.  It is the...  it's LB 705 that was introduced; was heard in front of the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee and was advanced to the floor.  The bill is ...  in its colloquial term is called the MacBride principles.  It is an investment piece of legislation that would be adopted to Senator Chambers' repeal of the South African sanctions.  What it does is it says that for purposes of investment in companies that are in Northern Ireland that the investment officer will ...  of the state will look at those compan...  corporations doing business in Northern Ireland.  It says that they will invest in corporate stocks or obligations in a manner to encourage corporations that in the state investment officer's determination pursue a policy of affirmative action in Northern Ireland.  Whenever feasible, the Nebraska Investment Council shall sponsor, cosponsor or support shareholder resolutions designed to encourage corporations in which the state investment officer has invested to pursue a policy of




affirmative action in Northern Ireland.  And it finally says, nothing in Sections 144-46 of this act shall be construed to required the state investment officer to dispose of existing investments.  It is not a provision that would require the state investment officer to relinquish any investments that are currently in corporations that do business in Northern Ireland that -have not adopted the MacBride principles.  MacBride principles, basically, is, as stated in the amendment, an affirmative action measure for purposes of individuals who happen to be members of a religious minority, Catholics in Northern Ireland.  Presently, the unemployment rate for the minority religious group is two and a half to every one of the Nationals that are presently in terms of employment.  The problem with having employment made available to these folks has been a long-standing issue in Ireland.  It goes back to the 1920s.  Britain has adopted a number of laws dealing with fair employment over the years, I think approximately six to seven different acts that have been put in place, but they have not been in force.  What this does, this provision does, the amendment allows for the State of Nebraska to take a position in this area.  I think we have, as the present bill in front of us, 1066, a model act that we have taken a stand on these types of things.  I believe that LB 705 that would be the amendment before you would continue that tradition on our part to say that we will not support nor will we, if at all possible, invest in those types of corporations that don't have these types of affirmative action measures in place should they be doing business in Northern Ireland.  With that, I would respond to any questions that members may have.  There are a number of states, I believe, approximately 15 that have adopted a similar measure to this, and I would urge this body to do the same.  Thank you, Mr. President.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  Thank you, Senator Hall.  Senator Landis.


SENATOR LANDIS:  Thank you.  Members of the Legislature, I rise as the Chairman of the Banking Committee to bring the body up to speed on what this issue is because it has been before the committee.  'The best thing for you to do is to get your bill book out and to open it to LB 705.  The reason being, this amendment is actually a bill that has had a public hearing.  it has been reported out of committee.  The vote was five to two to one.  It is not a consent measure but it has had a public hearing and it has been voted out of committee by the Banking Committee.  The reason I suggest the committee statement is




because it will give you a feeling that, in fact, this is...  there are two sides to this story and it's not a very...  it's not really the kind of consent calendar measure, unless this body thinks of it as a consent calendar measure, that you and I normally think of.  Strong support for this comes from Irish-American Political Education Committee, American-based Irish organizations that have relationships with the old country.  There are sources of opposition, however, that .you probably ought to know about.  Among them we had...  and the argument might well be funded by the British, but an un-Irish representative, Sinn Fein of the Alliance Party of Northern .Ireland, who happened to be a Catholic and who said the MacBride Principles will injure finding acceptable solutions.  We are making progress.  We are moving towards settlement in the north and that excessive foreign relationships will slow that progress, probably an argument that Senator Chambers faced on the original 1066 from its opponents as well, but (inaudible) here.  Secondly, our Nebraska Investment Council Administrator, Don Mathes, says he thought it would be two things.  First, rather difficult to administer in the sense that although he could get the information for two or three thousand bucks of soft money, wouldn't take a* new appropriation, there were aspects to the bill that were problematical.  For example, trying to test whether or not a company had made progress in providing, for example, that the amendment calls for, providing security for employees at the workplace and traveling to and from work, for example.  What I don't think there was any doubt in the committee about was that there is a disgraceful record of dis ...  of religious-based discrimination in Northern Ireland by the majority against the minority, basically by the British government and its power in that government to Irish Catholic Nationals.  That record is written in blood and is indisputable, I think.  One of the arguments is whether or not this is a mechanism that's going to do that.  This state chose ten, twelve years ago to do this in the case of South Africa.  Our investment officer has always been an opponent of that idea.  He says when we invest we should do it on straight return and nothing else, these are retirement funds and, for that reason, we should go wherever the money is.  I'm not...  I don't endorse that idea, myself.  I voted for the South African bill a number of years ago.  The measure is controversial.  It was not reported out on consent calendar fashion.  The arguments, in some cases, replicate the 1066 arguments when they were originally made in South Africa.  The record is indisputable that there is a basis of discrimination going on in Northern




Ireland.  The two dissenting points of view that I want the body to know about are, number one, the MacBride Principles will injure the chance for success of ...  of alterations of the existing government, that what you really need is to work for that.  That's what Mr. Sein's (phonetic) point was.  And, secondly, Mr. Mathes's point which was that social policy based investment practices were at odds with the theory of retirement and investment...


SPEAKER WITHEM:  One minute.


SENATOR LANDIS:  ...  practices in which one should aim for the highest amount of recovery possible, the largest returns possible and wherever those could be found safely and securely they should be pursued, that social justice is an irrelevance to the investment practices.  Those are the arguments that were before the committee.  I hope that I have educated the body as to what happened in the public hearing and allow you to make your own decisions as to whether or not you support the Hall amendment.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  Thank you, Senator Landis.  Senator Chambers, followed by Senators Coordsen, Will, Abboud, Wickersham and Beutler.  Senator Chambers.


SENATOR CHAMBERS:  Mr. Speaker, considering in this country the very horrendous relationships between black people and Irish people, you should be aware that I have to feel strongly about what is being attempted here with this amendment to have signed onto it, and and have it added to what is my priority bill.  I know that we cannot complete this discussion in 15 minutes.  This bill is not going to move today.  But I told Senator Hall I think it is an issue that needs to be addressed and even though this bill won't move today because we only have 15 minutes, it will be debated again on Select File.  And I feel so strongly about thin that if 1066 does riot pass this session, I will be back next year.  Arid it just means that for a year 'Nebraska is riot going to continue investing in some of these South African comp...  these countries, these companies doing business in or with South Africa.  Whether the discrimination is based on race, as in South Africa, arid color, or religion, and it can clearly be shown that that's the basis of it, I think it is the type of problem which money from Nebraska should not undergird and support.  There is no question but what the British have dealt in a way that is unfair, pardon the expression, ungodly, arid




were it for ...  not for the fact that they're considered part of the western world and an ally of the United States, it would not have been tolerated.  There are other countries treating parts of their population or people over whom they have directorship not nearly as badly as the British are treating certain groups in Northern Ireland and America objects.  People talk about crimes against humanity, the UN ought to get involved.  But, on this one, there is a difference.  Senator Crosby, I'm even supposed to be anti-Catholic, so I should have a reason because of the bad relationships between Irish people and black people.  The fact that I'm supposed to be anti-Catholic should be enough for me not to be interested in this.  But there are issues that transcend all of those superficial divisions and this is one of those issues.  So when 1066 comes up on Select in its regular order, the MacBride Principles will be with us.  Don Mathes opposed the divestment bill on South Africa.  He and representatives of the South African government said the divestment move would do nothing to change what happened in South Africa.  They were totally wrong.  The fact that the South African government spent so much money trying to defeat these types of bills indicated the great impact they would have.  Whenever you talk about money, you get people's attention and if enough states would do this; by adopting the MacBride principles, we would get some attention of the people who can rectify the bad circumstances in Northern Ireland.  The reason I'm speaking in general terms and not specifying some of the things I'm aware of happening in that bloody, torn country is because the time will not allow it and I can only speak in general terms today.  But I strongly support this amendment and I will support it throughout.  The rest of the body will have to determine how they feel and whether 1066 is a bill that needs to pass this year.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  Thank you, Senator Chambers.  We have about two and a half minutes remaining on consideration of LB 1066.  Senator Coordsen.


SENATOR COORDSEN:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker, members of the body, I only rise to indicate that Senator Landis, I think, clearly articulated the conversations of this bill that occurred last year in Banking Committee.  And I only rise to indicate my opposition to the amendment, simply because I do not believe the body of the Legislature needs to spend the time trying to influence international ...  or the internal affairs of other nations.  Thant( you.




SPEAKER WITHEM:  Thank you, Senator Coordsen.  Senator Will..


SENATOR WILL:  Thank you, Mr. Speaker, members of the body, very briefly, this is an amendment that I certainly agree with in principle.  I do have some questions as to exactly how the process would achieve what the ...  what the amendment is intended to, exactly how the investment officers would go about checking an individual corporation's policies.  But I think, obviously, this is something that we're going to explore in greater detail when this bill comes up in its normal course and this is not definitely an amendment that's going to be attached on...  at this stage on consent calendar.  With that, I would give any remaining time I have to Senator Lindsay.


SPEAKER WITHEM:  Senator Lindsay.  There's about a minute and a half left on this bill.


SENATOR LINDSAY:  Thank you, Senator Withem.  Thank you, Senator Will.  I, too, rise knowing that we're not going to get to a vote on this but rise in support of the amendment.  And I would concur with much of what Senator Chambers said, in fact, all of what Senator Chambers said.  Certainly, you would expect someone who is...  who is...and Senator Chambers and I have disagreed publicly on the floor regarding some of the religious issues that we've discussed.  But the fact is these are basic human rights violations, similar to the violations that ...  not nearly as severe but similar to the violations that occurred in South Africa.  Senator Coordsen says that Nebraska shouldn't be meddling with international affairs, but the fact is South Africa would still be divided racially if states such as Nebraska, and several other states, most other states in the United States, and several countries around the world had not said, we're going to take some action, we do want peace in South Africa.  I think especially on a day like this when we're all wearing green and saying, hey, we're going to take a day to be Irish.  In Northern Ireland, if you want to take a day to be Irish, you have to stand around and see British occupation troops standing in your country.  Ireland, right now, is divided and it shouldn't be.  The division of Ireland is not the issue here and it's not...  that's never going to be decided by the ...  by Nebraska and it shouldn't be.  The issue should...