Representative Morales and Senator Mack introduce historic bills to promote peace, security and transparency in state pension investments
STATE HOUSE – Rep. David Morales and Sen. Tiara Mack have introduced two bills to promote international peace.
The bills would require the State Investment Commission to issue a report detailing the extent to which the state pension fund is invested in military weapons manufacturing (2022-H 7482), and encourage the federal government to pursue nuclear disarmament for the United States and worldwide (2022-H 7518 , 2022-S 2423).
“Nuclear weapons are a threat to life and peace everywhere. As we continue to perpetuate the one-upmanship of nuclear arms between countries, while significantly increasing our annual military budget, we are multiplying the danger to innocent people across the world. While every nation will claim that they want to avoid nuclear war, as long as some nations have that capability, there will be others clamoring to join them in defense,” said Representative Morales (D-Dist. 7, Providence). “The way to peace is not through more weapons. The United States must lead the way toward a safer world, and in Rhode Island we can do our part by passing a resolution urging our federal government to sign the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, while also passing legislation to learn if and how our state pension funds are supporting the development of military arms.”
Said Senator Mack (D-Dist. 6, Providence), “The way to improve the lives of working people is not through the continuation of massive military spending and leaving the potential of nuclear war on the table. We should be directing this money toward the war on poverty, toward education and desperately needed housing and health care. Can we really say this military spending is making us safer when nearly 1 in 7 children in America are living in poverty? That’s the real danger to America, and where we should be directing our resources.”
Under the first bill, which is supported by state Treasurer Seth Magaziner, the State Investment Commission, which oversees the state employees’ retirement fund, would have six months from the date of the bill’s passage to identify all military weapon manufacturers in which the pension fund owns direct or indirect holdings and file a list of any such holdings with the attorney general, the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The other bill is a resolution urging the federal government to spearhead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons in a “first strike,” ending the president’s sole authority to launch a nuclear attack, taking nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert, canceling any plan to replace or modernize its nuclear arsenal with enhanced nuclear weapons, and actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenal.
Both bills are supported by a dozen local and national organizations that includes CODEPINK, Pax Christi RI, East Bay Citizens for Peace, No Endless War or Excessive Militarism, Brown War Watch, Sisters of Mercy Justice Team, Direct Action for Rights and Equality, The ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition, RI Poor People’s Campaign, Westerly Area Peace and Justice, the Rhode Island Anti-War Committee, and Just Peace RI.
“The use of nuclear weapons is so terrifying that we as a country often push them to the bottom of our minds and never speak about them. However, the threat has not disappeared. It’s inconceivable that we could continue to live like this indefinitely into the future. We must find a way to take them apart, and the resolution would establish Rhode Island’s support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is the most important action we can take at the local level,” said William Smith III, a former U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in India and member of Pax Christi RI.
Said Nancy Hood, a member of East Bay Citizens for Peace, “East Bay Citizens for Peace is proud to support legislation put forward by Representative Morales and Senator Mack, the study of state pension funds invested in military weapons manufacturers, because, like President Dwight D. Eisenhower, we believe that a shift in priorities is critical. The words he spoke in 1953 ring far too true today: ‘Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed…..” In Rhode Island, we have a shortage of affordable housing and the Food Bank reports it is challenged to keep up with the needs of hungry families. All of us are living under the cloud of the COVID pandemic and the real security threats of climate change. This piece of legislation is the first step to establish transparency regarding any pension fund investments to the military weapons industry. It is a small and crucial step we can take as we work to divest from war making and further invest in constructive industries that focus on people’s real needs and the security of future generations.”
“In 2020 alone, the top five weapons manufacturers received over $150 billion in US taxpayer dollars. Legislation to study Rhode Island state pension funds invested in military weapons manufacturers is crucial for anyone who thinks we should prioritize investing in life-affirming programs like education, healthcare, and green jobs that we desperately need,” said Carley Towne, National Co-Director of CODEPINK.