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Senate Committee Acts on Bill Prohibiting Russian Investments

Trenton – Acting in response to Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine, the Senate Budget Committee today approved a bill sponsored by Senator Paul Sarlo and Senator Declan O’Scanlon that would prohibit public investments with Russia. 

The bill, S-1889, would cut off public investments and other financial agreements with Russia and any business or individual with Russian interests. 

“We need to target Russia’s economic pressure points to make them pay a price for launching a war of aggression against a free people and the democratically-elected government of Ukraine,” said Senator Sarlo (D-Bergen), the committee’s chair. “The Russian playbook is to shift investments around to try to hide them from accountability. New Jersey and other states can help cut off these financial maneuvers with restrictions that will reinforce international sanctions. Other states should join with us in a unified stance in support of the Ukrainian people.”

The legislation would prohibit the state and local government in New Jersey from doing business with the Russian government or any business or financial institution with Russian interests. The bill would specifically prevent the state from investing pension or annuity funds in companies engaging in financial activities in Russia, and would prohibit the state from banking with institutions that provide banking services for Russia.

“It’s clear that Vladimir Putin has little fear that the people of his nation will learn the truth of the atrocities being committed under his command in Ukraine when they only have access to censored media that spews lies and fake news,” said Senator O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth). “While Putin might be able to control the flow of information within Russia, but he won’t be able to shield his nation from the economic impact of sanctions and divestment undertaken by governments across the world, including the State of New Jersey. These unified actions are not intended to hurt peaceful Russian citizens, but to send a strong message to the oligarchs and others in positions of power that their leader has crossed a line with his war in Ukraine that the international community will not tolerate.”

Under the bill, a person or entity that engages in investment activity in Russia would be prohibited from obtaining a professional service contract from the state or a local government, a tax credit or other economic incentive issued by the Economic Development Authority, a tax abatement, or a payment in-lieu of property tax agreement.

The bill would apply to Belarus as well as Russia. It was approved with a unanimous committee vote.