St. Paul, Minn. – St. Paul, MN - In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, today the Minnesota House passed broadly bipartisan 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 bill passed on a vote of 126-0.
State Representative Laurie Pryor (DFL-Minnetonka) reacted:
“Minnesotans have watched the unfolding horror in Ukraine. While so many are wondering what they can do, the legislature has passed this measure, standing with Ukrainians to reject Russia’s brutal dictator. This is the right thing to do for the 17,000 Ukrainian-Americans who call Minnesota home and for all democracies worldwide.”
The legislation requires Minnesota, primarily the State Board of Investment (SBI), 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. Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, the estimated worth of Minnesota's state pension fund investments in Russia was approximately $53 million.
The bill mainly affects the state pension funds and other state-owned investment products that SBI administers as well. This 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 like prior sanctions Minnesota has set 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 new contracts with Russian and Belarusian entities.
Video recording of today’s floor debate can be found on the House Public Information YouTube channel.