A bill that would require part of the state's $20 billion retirement fund to pull its money from firms that do business in Iran moved forward Tuesday.
The passage of HB39 came on the same day Israeli Consul General Jacob Dayan, Israel's top official in the southwestern United States, met with several state leaders, including Utah legislators.
Dayan said the legislation should not be "an Israeli issue" and said it was not the primary focus of his visit to Utah. The consul, who oversees Israeli relations with seven states, said he also met with Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., Salt Lake Mayor Ralph Becker and LDS Church leaders.
Still, he lauded the bill's passage through the House.
"That such legislation has passed shows the values of the state," he said. "This is another level in the international effort to put pressure on Iran."
Dayan gave a briefing on the Middle East to a group of about 30 people at the Salt Lake Jewish Community Center on Tuesday night.
"Iran is the biggest threat, not to Israel, but the world," he said.
After what he called setbacks in nuclear talks with Iran, Dayan described the Iranian situation as a race between two ticking clocks.
"Right now, the technological clock is ticking much faster than the diplomatic clock," he said.
HB39's sponsor, Rep. Julie Fisher, R-Fruit Heights, has said the state system should withdraw its funds from companies that do business in Iran, a nation that, she said, abuses human rights and supports terrorism.
"It really bothers me that we are sending our sons and daughters over to Iraq to fight for our freedom when our own state retirement system may be investing in (Iran), the very economy that is trying to destroy us," Fisher said last month.
Similar legislation has been passed in other states, including California, Florida, Missouri, Louisiana, Colorado and New York.
Arizona legislators are currently considering their own version of the Iranian divestment legislation.
Rep. David Litvak, D-Salt Lake, has sponsored a bill that would require divestment of the state's retirement fund from companies that do business in Sudan.