California Takes Steps Toward Becoming First Conflict-Free State
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On Tuesday, April 13, a committee of the California State Senate passed a bill to end the use of conflict-minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The unanimous, bi-partisan vote by the Governmental Organization Committee represents an important and tangible first step toward making California the first conflict-free state.
Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett (D- San Leandro) introduced the bill, which if passed by the full assembly, will prohibit the state government from contracting with companies who fail to comply with federal regulations on conflict minerals. Those regulations, as stipulated by last spring’s Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform act, require companies who report to the Security and Exchange Commission, or SEC, to disclose whether the minerals that have been called the 3T’s—tin, tantalum, and tungsten—and gold, are sourced from mines in the Congo or neighboring countries. The push for legislation at the state and local level is giving teeth to the federal conflict-minerals legislation. Enough’s Research Director David Sullivan was in Sacramento for the hearing and testified before the State Senate committee: “This bill will incentivize further action, by using California’s commercial clout as a purchaser to reward companies that source responsibly and impose a tangible cost on those that the Securities and Exchange Commission determines to be in violation of federal law.”
Activists turned out for the lobby day on Monday, the day before the hearing. Among other groups, Enough, Jewish World Watch, ICAR, and student members of STAND who are involved in the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative participated by demonstrating their commitment to the cause.