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Legislature sends No Nukes message to Iran

ALBANY -– The first major piece of legislation passed by the Senate and Assembly on the first day of a new session is generally about setting a tone and emphasis for the coming months.

On Monday, the two houses used the first day to send a message halfway around the world to Iran.

The Legislature approved sanctions against companies involved in energy business dealings with Iran that could be used to help it gain nuclear weapons.

In a display of bipartisanship, and a rare trip by the Senate majority leader into the heart of the Assembly Democratic wing of the Capitol building, the two houses were quickly moving legislation mandating the state Office of General Services should compile a list of companies doing at least $20 million worth of energy sector business with Iran. Such companies would either break the business ties or be barred from any contracts with the state or local governments in New York.

“It is no secret that Iran is the patron of terrorism in the Middle East,’’ said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who invited a number of Jewish leaders to a press conference with him and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos to announce the bill’s passage later today.

Skelos said the bill is meant to send a message “that we cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran.’’

Two other states –- California and Florida -– have enacted similar sanction laws. United Against Nuclear Iran, a New York-based group, said three companies stopped doing business in Iran after being identified by California officials. Forty-seven companies -– all based overseas and mostly in European and Asian nations –- are on the California list as having financial ties in Iran’s energy and defense sectors.

What impact, beyond symbolic, the legislation will have is uncertain since energy companies from Russia, Thailand and China generally don’t do government contracting work in Albany.

Silver said he did not discuss the bill in advance with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

-- Tom Precious

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

rmccarthy@buffnews.com


Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

tprecious@buffnews.com


Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | jterreri@buffnews.com


Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | jzremski@buffnews.com

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