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.
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the human rights atrocities that Vladimir Putin’s forces are committing there is heart-wrenching to watch,” said Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL – Rochester). “Minnesotans don’t expect their dollars to support war crimes and senseless violence. Today’s action shows that Minnesota is standing strong with partners around the world to loudly reject Russia’s unjustified war on Ukraine.”
“Every war is a tragedy, and Russia’s cruel invasion of Ukraine is no exception. The human cost of violence has been made hauntingly clear as the suffering of the Ukrainian people has been broadcast across the world,” said Rep. Liz Boldon (DFL – Rochester). “As a nurse, I take to heart the sacred nature of life; I feel a responsibility to do what I can to slow Russia’s aggression and to hopefully, bring them closer to the cessation of hostilities.”
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 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.