RHODE ISLAND GENERAL ASSEMBLY LEGISLATIVE BILL H6026 : DIVESTMENT OF STATE PENSION FUNDS FROM MILITARY CONTRACTORS

**PLEASE SEE THE ACTION ITEMS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST FOR IMPORTANT & APPRECIATED WAYS THAT *YOU* CAN SUPPORT THIS CONCRETE, RARE, AND PROMISING LEGISLATIVE STEP TOWARD REINING IN THE WAR PROFITEERS**

Peace activists across Rhode Island, working with inspired legislators – including Representatives David Morales and Brianna Henries, and Senators Tiara Mack and Sam Bell – are currently moving to divest RI’s State Pension Funds from weapons corporations.

RI House Bill 6026  – for the DIVESTMENT OF STATE PENSION FUNDS FROM MILITARY CONTRACTORS – is a small but concrete step toward a more peaceful planet. 

Bill 6026 will appear before the Finance Committee on Thursday March 11 at 5.30pm and we need your help

FACTS

Every year the US spends approximately a third of its bloated $740 billion military budget on weapons systems, constantly adding to its world-ending arsenal (including 5,800 nuclear warheads). More spending only drives the global arms race, not improvements in national security.  

The weapons industry corrupts our democracy, leeches off our public purse, and sews misery across the globe – all financed by our tax dollars and retirement funds. 

The war profiteers constantly undermine our democracy. They pour their super-profits born from wasteful government contracts – back into the lobbying trough – chasing new contacts by influencing elected officials, academics, and the media. 

Lobbying for more weapons contracts re-enforces a continuing climate of insecurity, encourages wasted military capacity, and warps the economy away from productive activity. 

Our tax dollars enrich the war profiteers who specialize in the endless production of violence, death, destruction, and social chaos. The world’s worst ongoing humanitarian crisis, Yemen, is a prime example of American weapons companies (Raytheon in this case) at work.

Instead of footing the yearly bill for the multi-million dollar CEO bonuses at Death & Destruction Inc. – we can instead invest the retirement savings of RI’s hardworking people in social goods that build healthy, educated, climate resilient communities. 

 While Senator Jack Reed defends the bloated military budget – the people of RI are working tirelessly at the local level to end this waste and corruption. We’re fed up with being led around by the Weapons Trust.

What is more – Rhode Islanders do not have to sacrifice returns or take on more risk with their pension funds. Studies confirm that Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) investment vehicles match or outperform the market over the long-term. In short: PEACE PAYS.

Diverting investment funds toward companies with positive environmental, social, and governance ratings can improve societal investment in sustainable energy, modernizing crumbling infrastructure, and supporting public transit.

Further – we know it can be done because there are encouraging precedents for divestment right here in Rhode Island. The state has divested from civilian assault-style gun manufacturers and private for-profit prisons. 

The effort to rein in the military machine begins in our local communities – with people-powered campaigns from the bottom up. 

Local volunteer peace activists wrote this legislation themselves – guided by the incredible work of larger, more established groups like Mass Peace Action and Code Pink.

These information sheets will also prove helpful in understanding and supporting this legislation:

Divestment Fact Sheet – here

Divestment Considerations: here

Please find below a list of actions you can take now to begin reclaiming our democracy from the War Merchants.

ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE NOW IN SUPPORT OF H6026

1. SEND A THANK YOU EMAIL TO THE SPONSORS

Please email the hardworking Rhode Island legislators who have sponsored this peace legislation

Representative David Morales : rep-morales@rilegislature.gov

and

Representative Brianna Henries  : rep-henries@rilegislature.gov  

We believe it is essential for legislators to know that when they carry legislation forward for the peace and anti-war community we have their back and appreciate their work. 

Here is a Script You are welcome to use:

Dear Representative [Insert Name],

I write with heartfelt thanks for the hard work and support you have lent to the General Assembly legislative initiative H6026 – for the Divestment of State Pension Funds from Military Contractors.

As a member of the Rhode Island community I strongly believe in the power of this statement for peace, and the important benefits it will deliver for the people of RI and beyond. I look forward to working with you to see this initiative meet with success. 

Yours in Gratitude,

[Insert Your Name]  

2. RECRUIT YOUR LOCAL RI GENERAL ASSEMBLY REPRESENTATIVE TO SUPPORT H6026

Contact your local RI General Assembly representative and let them know you’d like them to support this initiative. We need to generate both a groundswell of support in the community and in the legislature to meet with success. The more RI Assembly reps we can get to sign on, sponsor and support this bill – the greater the chances of success. 

An information sheet on how to find *your* local representative is: HERE

Here is a Script You are welcome to use:

Dear Representative [Insert Name],

I am a constituent of your district and I write seeking your support for an important RI General Assembly legislative initiative: H6026 – for the Divestment of State Pension Funds from Military Contractors.

This bill makes a clear and important statement for peace. It shows that Rhode Islanders prioritize investments in the social good, and are willing to act to end support for military corporations who trouble our democracy with endless lobbying, and  produce violence, death, and destruction. Much research shows that investors, most importantly the hardworking people who contribute to RI State Pension Funds, need not forego returns or add risk, to invest their money with social outcomes in mind. In fact, RI legislators have a precedent for just such actions, divesting from civilian assault-style gun manufacturers and private for-profit prisons last year. This initiative continues that work.

For more information on this bill, please see this published Divestment Fact Sheet put together by a concerned group of Rhode Island citizens.

We hope you can sponsor, support, and vote for this important bill.

Yours Sincerely

[Insert Your Name]  

3. SIGN UP FOR WRITTEN AND/OR VERBAL TESTIMONY IN FAVOR OF H6026

Sign up for written or spoken testimony. To be successful we need citizens concerned about the out-of-control war industry to speak up and speak out. Reining in the military-industrial complex begins on the local level.

Instructions for the Finance Committee Statements are here and below. They include how to register for both written and spoken testimony, and the specifics of Thursday’s deadlines.  

Feel free to write something short – any and all statements help enormously. Above all we want to show that we have widespread support. These information sheets will help you to prepare a statement – we recommend simply cutting and pasting the part that speaks to you and for you.

Divestment: Fact Sheet – here

Considerations: here


FINANCE COMMITTEE HEARING DETAILS for H6026

The meeting will be televised live on Capitol Television, which can be seen on Cox Channels 15, and 61, in high definition on Cox Channel 1061, on Full Channel on Channel 15 and on Channel 34 by Verizon subscribers. It will also be live streamed at  http://rilegislature.gov/CapTV/Pages/default.aspx

WRITTEN TESTIMONY
Written testimony is strongly encouraged and may be submitted via HouseFinance@rilegislature.gov 
Indicate your name, bill number, and viewpoint (for/against/neither) at top of message.  Due to high volume, clerks are not screening this inbox for verbal testimony requests. This inbox is for written testimony only
DEADLINE: Written testimony should be submitted no later than three (3) hours prior to the posted meeting time. Every effort will be made to share written testimony submitted before the deadline with committee members prior to the hearing. Testimony received after deadline will be sent to committee members and posted to the website as soon as possible.  For faster processing, it is recommended that testimony is submitted as a PDF file.
Testimony will be posted on the General Assembly website, http://www.rilegislature.gov/Special/comdoc/Pages/HFIN.aspx .

VERBAL TESTIMONY For verbal testimony requests, CLICK HERE Verbal testimony accepted on any bill scheduled for “Hearing and/or Consideration” only
DEADLINE: Requests for verbal testimony must be submitted via the link, by 11:00 AM on Thursday, March 11, 2021. The committee is unable to designate a specific time that you will be called. In the event you are unavailable when called, witnesses are urged to submit written testimony.

4. PLEASE FILL OUT THIS QUICK GOOGLE FORM LETTING US KNOW WHAT ACTION YOU TOOK

So that we can measure and celebrate our collective impact!! Let’s do this!

Google Form : HERE

Please feel free to reach out to brownwarwatch@brown.edu if you need help with any of the actions above, especially in registering for testimony or crafting your response. 

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