Mo. lawmaker seeks terrorism investment policies

Legislation filed Monday would bar state pension systems from investing in companies that do business with countries such as Iran, Syria and Sudan, which are led by governments the United States considers sponsors of terrorism. The measure comes about a year after Missouri’s largest pension fund for state employees rescinded a policy requiring stepped up screening of companies for possible terrorism links.

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“We shouldn’t be investing taxpayer dollars in companies that do business with these governments,” said Sarah Steelman, a Republican who served as state treasurer from 2005-2009.

Steelman served on the pension board as state treasurer and is married to David Steelman, who was appointed to the board by Gov. Jay Nixon last year.

At Sarah Steelman’s behest, the Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System in 2005 approved a policy requiring terrorism screening on direct investments. The pension fund paid $23,000 a year to a consultant to screen for possible terrorism ties. [Read the full article]

Gov. Chris Christie has signed three bills designed to save taxpayers billions of dollars by making pensions and health benefits for government workers less generous.

The Republican governor signed the reform measures late Monday, lingering at the Statehouse until about 8:30 p.m. when the bills reached his desk. He then held a public bill-signing, approving his first legislation taking office in January.

“Today is a great day for the taxpayers of the state of New Jersey,” Christie said. “We’ve been talking for more than four years about the need for this type of beginning, fundamental reform.”

The bills require all government workers to contribute at least 1.5 percent of their salaries toward health care costs, cap the amount of unused sick and vacation time workers can cash out at retirement and bar part-timers from enrolling in the state pension system. [Read the full article]

Some Michigan state government workers are protesting proposals aimed at coaxing more of them into retirement.

The Tuesday rally at the state Capitol also gave union-represented state workers a chance to voice their opposition to proposals that would eliminate a 3 percent pay raise scheduled for October.

Republicans in the state Legislature are trying to eliminate the scheduled pay raise but so far haven’t mustered enough votes to do it.

Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm wants thousands of public school employees and state workers to retire this year. Workers who already qualify for retirement would get better benefits if they leave, while those who stay on the job would face higher pension contribution costs. [Read the full article]

Honeywell International spent $1.9 million during the fourth quarter to lobby the federal government on legislation related to defense and aircraft technologies, renewable energy, security programs, health care reform and corporate issues.

The $1.9 million spent compares with $1.7 million paid to lobby the government in the third quarter, and just over $1 million during the final quarter of 2008, according to disclosure reports.

In the final three months of 2009, Morristown, N.J.-based Honeywell lobbied the House and Senate, departments of Defense, State, Commerce, Energy, Treasury, Homeland Security and Transportation, the White House and the Office of Management and Budget. [Read the full article]

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