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