West Virginia Legislature Considers Bill Allowing Agencies to Divest Russian Entities | News, Sports, Jobs


picture by: Photo courtesy of WV Legislative Photography

West Virginia Senate President Craig Blair chairs the body on Thursday, which voted unanimously to pass a bill allowing state authorities to divest from Russian investments.

PARKERSBURG — A bill allowing authorities to divest from Russian investments has passed the West Virginia Senate unanimously and is in the House of Delegates.

Senate Bill 730, passed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, authorizes state or local spending units with investment authority, such as the West Virginia Investment Management Board and the West Virginia Board of Treasury Investments, to divest Russian entities; clarifies that divestment of Russian entities does not violate fiduciary duties and grants immunity to boards of directors and officials for Russian divestment.

The legislation does not impose any specific divestment measure.

The bill is supported by State Treasurer Riley Moore. The State Investment Management Board and Treasury Investment Board have already completed an investment review, he said.

“We are not invested in any Russian Treasury Board Investments entity,” Moore said.

The next step is to look at long-term investments, such as savings accounts, Moore said.

“The stated objective is that we will divest of all Russian investments if they exist,” Moore said.

The legislation is in line with economic sanctions imposed by the United States on Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the oligarchs who control and profit under Putin’s totalitarian government. Additionally, Governor Jim Justice earlier this week signed an executive order banning the sale and purchase of Russian liquor by the Liquor Control Administration and encouraged private retailers to remove Russian-made products from their stores. shelves.

“The West Virginia Legislature supports economic sanctions against Russia in response to Russia’s unjustifiable aggression against Ukraine and intends, through this section, to authorize and encourage investment entities to restrict the investment or use of public funds to support the Russian government or Russian state-owned companies as the attack on Ukraine continues,” SB 730 said.

The bill, which originated in the Senate Finance Committee on Monday, passed the Senate 33-0 on Wednesday. It was referred to the House Finance Committee on Thursday

State Sen. Mike Woelfel, D-Cabell, said Wednesday during the discussion of the bill that while the Senate was unanimous in its sentiment, the Senate discussed in the last session the removal of assets from entities. at odds with Israel and learned that it would be expensive or contrary to the goals of the state investment plan.

“On which retirees and everyone in this state depend,” Woelfel said.

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