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House passes plan to scrub state investments of ties with Russia, Belarus

Sharon Aaseng, of Hastings, heeded Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s call for people around the world to turn out in support of Ukraine, as she parades in front of the State Capitol March 24. (Photo by Paul Battaglia)

In a highly charged and divisive political environment, House members have united against a common enemy from halfway around the world.

Passed 126-0 by the House Thursday, HF4165 would direct the State Board of Investment to divest Minnesota’s investments from Russia and Belarus within 15 months. It would also codify an executive order Gov. Tim Walz issued 20 days earlier directing state agencies to terminate contracts in the two nations and their entities. Future investments by the board and state agencies would also be prohibited.

Rep. Sydney Jordan (DFL-Mpls) sponsors the House bill that is now headed to the Senate, where Sen. Karin Housley (R-Stillwater) is the sponsor.

“Our screens have been filled with images of bombed maternity hospitals, slain families and frantic refugees lined up to enter other countries,” Jordan said. “I’ve spoken to Ukrainians across the state who all have unique stories to share about how this war has impacted them and their family. Their families are fleeing to other countries; they’re taking up arms; they’re hiding in shelters. But what’s worse is when you hear that many of our neighbors are forced to watch the bombing of their homeland without having heard from friends or family since February.”

State law imposes similar restrictions with Iran and Sudan.

“The global community has stepped up to condemn these actions by targeting the Russian economy and Minnesota can join them by divesting our state agencies and state pensions from Putin’s war machine,” Jordan said. “Pension holders do not want to fund their retirement from bloodshed and Minnesotans do not want state agencies to serve them while holding contracts in Russia and Belarus.”

State investments in the countries was estimated at $53 million before the Ukraine invasion began a month ago. Jordan believes that number is now less than $10 million.

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