INDIANAPOLIS — As the federal government takes steps to re-impose economic sanctions on Iran for allegedly cheating on the 2015 deal that temporarily halted its development of a nuclear weapon, officials in the Hoosier State won't be required to do the same.
That's because Indiana never lifted its Iran sanctions.
In 2012, when Iran stepped up its nuclear-enrichment activities, Indiana lawmakers overwhelmingly approved Senate Enrolled Act 231 prohibiting businesses that provide substantial goods or services to Iran's energy sector from obtaining any state or local government contract.
The law signed by Republican former Gov. Mitch Daniels also barred Indiana governmental entities from doing business with financial institutions that provide significant loans to Iran energy operators or invest directly in Iranian oil or liquefied natural gas tankers or pipelines.
State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, and former state Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, were among the sponsors of the law, which at the time was just the third in the country, behind California and Florida, to deny government contracts to certain businesses operating in Iran.
"We worked really hard on that," Candelaria Reardon said last week. "They were the largest exporters of terror in the world at the time, and we felt it was really important to support our military families and soldiers, and take a strong stand against a state sponsor of terror."
Under the statute, the Indiana Department of Administration every six months must compile a list of companies it has determined are engaged in prohibited Iran investment activities and publish it on the department's website.
Listed companies automatically are deemed ineligible bidders for government contracts.
Initially, the law also required entities awarded contracts to certify they were not engaged in Iran investment activities. That duplicative obligation was deleted from the statute in 2015.
There currently are no companies on the IDOA suspended vendor list.
Separately, Daniels and the 2009 Legislature mandated the Indiana Public Retirement System gradually divest government employee pension funds from companies engaged in energy production, military equipment procurement and oil or mineral extraction in countries designated by the U.S. secretary of state as state sponsors of terrorism.
That includes Iran, which was added to the list in 1984, as well as Sudan, Syria and North Korea.
INPRS Executive Director Steve Russo last summer told the General Assembly that the agency is in full compliance with the mandate, and has just seven publicly traded securities totaling 0.05 percent of INPRS assets remaining to divest.
Since enacting the Iran contracting ban and terror state-divestment requirement, Hoosier leaders never seriously have considered rescinding either one — even though the federal government encouraged states in 2015 to drop their Iran sanctions after the nuclear deal was signed.
Then-Gov. Mike Pence, now the Republican vice president of the United States, said in a Sept. 8, 2015, letter to Indiana's congressional delegation that he opposed the Iran Deal and had no intention of ever eliminating the state's laws targeting Iran.
"Despite any encouragement that may come from President Obama or his administration, I will not support the lifting of Indiana’s state-level sanctions against Iran, and I will work with the Indiana General Assembly to examine whether there are any new steps the state can take to bolster our sanctions or show support for Israel," Pence said.
Indeed, the Republican-controlled General Assembly in 2016 followed Illinois' lead in prohibiting the investment of government employee pension funds in businesses that support efforts to boycott, divest or sanction the country of Israel.
Pence said he was honored to sign House Enrolled Act 1378 because it makes clear: "Indiana will not do business with those who seek to inflict financial damage on the people of Israel."
The vice president last week repeated his support for Israel after he claimed Iran launched missiles into the Jewish state from neighboring Syria.
“We stand by Israel's right of self-defense to protect its nation, its people and its sovereignty," Pence said.