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RELEASE: Rep. Lislegard votes to approve Minnesota sanctions against Russia

Thursday, March 24, 2022

SAINT PAUL, Minn. –In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, today the Minnesota House unanimously passed legislation divesting Minnesota’s state pensions of Russian and Belarusian assets, and codifying Governor Walz’s Executive Order barring Minnesota from contracting with Russian companies. The legislation requires Minnesota, primarily the State Board of Investment, to divest of its direct holdings of Russian and Belarusian assets. Lawmakers included Belarus in the legislation due to its government’s complicity in the Russian invasion. As of March 11, the value of SBI’s publicly traded assets in Russia and Belarus was $14 million. Since that time, due to the current volatility of these assets, it’s estimated the values have dropped below $10 million.

“We’ve all seen horrifying images from Ukraine during Russia’s unprovoked invasion. A native of the Iron Range – James Hill – recently lost his life while in – of all places – a breadline,” said Rep. Dave Lislegard (DFL – Aurora). “These atrocities are simply unacceptable, and we have a responsibility to take action against Russia for their aggression. Through divestment of our state’s assets, we have the opportunity to show where we stand. Today, I’m proud we came together as Democrats and Republicans to stand up against Putin’s senseless violence.”

The bill mainly affects the state pension funds and other state-owned investment products that the State Board of Investment (SBI) administers. The requirement to divest does not apply to indirect holdings in investment funds, nor does it affect local or county governments except to the extent that they allow SBI to manage their investments. The action against Russia and Belarus is similar to prior actions Minnesota has taken against Iranian and Sudanese interests. 

Under the bill, SBI must liquidate 50% of prohibited assets within nine months of the effective date, with 100% liquidated within 15 months. The bill also regulates state agency contracts with Russia and Belarus as well as with Russian and Belarusian interests. The bill requires state agencies to review existing contracts to determine which are with Russian and Belarusian entities, terminate those contracts to the extent practicable, and refrain from entering into new contracts with Russian and Belarusian entities.

Video recording of today’s floor debate can be found on the House Public Information YouTube channel.