Minnesota House votes to end state pension investments in Russian companies
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (FOX 9) – The Minnesota House voted 126 to 0 to force state pension funds to sell their Russian and Belarusian investments on Thursday, as state lawmakers unite around one of the few concrete steps that they can take to show their solidarity with Ukraine.
The assets, estimated at $53 million before Russia invaded Ukraine in February, now hold less than $10 million now that Western sanctions have hobbled the Russian economy. Investments in Russia and Belarus represent only 0.007% of the total balance of funds of the State Board of Investment.
“It’s important for us to note that there’s not a lot of fiscal impact, but there’s a big moral impact for us to stay invested in Russia,” said State Representative Sydney Jordan, DFL. -Minneapolis.
Two Republicans tried unsuccessfully to add China and 15 other communist or totalitarian countries to the banned list. But DFL State Representative Dan Wolgamott, who was presiding over the House during the debate, ruled the amendments out of order.
The bill is heading to the Senate, where senators expect to send it to the governor’s office early next week. A bipartisan group of lawmakers from both houses approved the legislation.
Minnesota investment managers must dispose of 50% of their investments in securities held by Russians and Belarusians within nine months. They may take 15 months to sell the rest of the investments.
Under the bill, state agencies are also prohibited from entering into contracts with Russian or Belarusian entities. Governor Tim Walz’s administration found no such contract.
Watching from the House gallery was Luda Anastazievsky, a Minneapolis teacher who immigrated from Mariupol, Ukraine when she was young. She called the passage of the bill an important step as Russia continues its invasion which she hoped would already be over.
“We all did it,” Anastazievsky said of the ongoing war. “But it continues, and I so appreciate the efforts our country, our president and our elected officials are making to support Ukraine.”
Ukrainian Minnesotans say they pressed Walz to accept refugees fleeing the war. A spokeswoman for the governor said Walz is still awaiting news from the US State Department, which is managing this process.