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July 12, 2011 > Senate Bill 861 clears committee

Senate Bill 861 clears committee

Submitted By Teala Schaff

A bill authored by Senate Majority Leader Ellen M. Corbett (D-San Leandro) that would prohibit the California Department of General Services from procuring contracts with companies using Congo's conflict minerals passed out of Assembly committee on June 28, 2011.

Senate Bill 861 denounces the atrocities being committed by illegal militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo that profit from the illicit trade of its minerals, such as tin, tungsten and tantalum, which are used in computers, cell phones and other high-tech equipment. The bill prohibits the state from contracting with companies that use minerals sold by the militias in their products.

"This legislation will help cut off the cash flow and support for lawless militias engaged in heinous human rights violations," Corbett said.

Federal law requires publicly traded companies to disclose to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) whether they use Congolese conflict minerals in their products. The mines in question are controlled by gang-like networks of militia leaders who use the profits to purchase weapons used in perpetration of terrible human rights violations that include mass rape, the widespread murder of civilians and recruitment of child soldiers. The 12-year war in Eastern Congo has killed more than 5 million people, more than any conflict since World War II, and resulted in more than 200,000 cases of sexual violence, according to the United Nations.

SB 861 received bipartisan support, passing out of the Assembly Business and Professions Committee on a 7 to 0 vote. The bill, which has already been approved by the Senate, goes next to the Assembly Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy Committee.

California spends $8.9 billion annually in state contracts. The legislation is supported by 28 U.S. investment firms with assets totaling $130 billion.

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