April 23, 2013

Maine bill would sever ties to firms linked to terrorist countries

The Boston Marathon bombings have given the measure more exposure, its co-sponsor says.

The Associated Press

A week after the Boston Marathon bombings, Maine legislators are considering a bill that aims to fight back at terrorism by cutting ties to businesses that benefit from countries that have given support to terrorist acts.

click image to enlarge

Maine House Minority Leader Kenneth Fredette, R-Newport

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

A legislative committee held a public hearing Monday on a bill that would prohibit the state, state universities and colleges, and Maine municipalities from doing business with companies that have dealings with other companies that do business with countries that are designated as state sponsors of terrorism.

The countries now listed as such by the federal government are Cuba, Syria, Iran and Sudan.

The Maine bill was introduced before the Boston Marathon, but the bombings have given it heightened exposure, said House Republican Leader Kenneth Fredette of Newport, one of the bill's co-sponsors.

"Terrorism is part of the world we live in today, and unfortunately it's domestic as well as international," Fredette said. "I think this is a bill that sends a message that we aren't going to be supportive of those countries that harbor or are terrorist countries."

Besides prohibiting state government and municipalities from doing business with companies that have dealings with other companies that do business in those countries, the law would also require that counties and school boards adopt similar policies by 2014.

The U.S. Department of State designates countries as state sponsors of terrorism if it's determined they have provided repeated support for acts of international terrorism. Syria has had the designation since 1979, Cuba since 1982, Iran since 1984 and Sudan since 1993.

In some circumstances, companies that do business with those countries can offer the best prices for goods or services, said Democratic Rep. Terry Hayes of Buckfield, who introduced the bill.

"However, in the days following 9/11 and the recent tragedies of Boston, it is not responsible for our government to purchase from companies involved with the terrorist network," Hayes said Monday before the State and Local Government Committee, according to a copy of her testimony. "By spending our resources in those areas, we are providing economic support to parties that seek to do us harm."

An updated terror report is due from the U.S. State Department on April 30. Other countries that have been included on the list over the years and later removed are Iraq, South Yemen, Libya and North Korea.


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