Pennsylvania moves to divest holdings in Russian assets

The state Treasury Department said it began divesting its holdings in all “Russian-based companies" last week.

People hold up signs in support of Ukraine at a rally in Philly

Hundreds of people rallied on Sunday, Feb. 27 at Independence Mall to show solidarity with Ukraine. (Tennyson Donyéa/WHYY)

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is spurring Pennsylvania lawmakers to draft legislation to require the state Treasury Department and the state’s three public pension funds to divest holdings connected to Russia.

Meanwhile, the state Treasury Department said it began divesting its holdings in all “Russian-based companies” last week. It described the holdings as “minimal” and expected to finish the process by Monday’s end.

Divestiture legislation was being drafted Monday in the House by Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, and in the Senate by state Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia.

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“We have a moral obligation to ensure that our public fund investments are not inadvertently supporting those who are engaging in an unprovoked invasion of their democratically elected neighbors,” Benninghoff said in a note to House members.

Lawmakers in 2010 required the divestment of investments related to Iran and Sudan.

In a memo to fellow senators, Street said the “aggressive and illegal invasion of Ukraine demands action.”

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“We must wield our economic power to ensure that Russia faces grave consequences for their flagrant violations of international law and human cooperation,” Street wrote.

Over the weekend, Pennsylvania ordered the removal of Russian-made products from state-owned liquor stores and Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration lit the front of the Capitol in the yellow and blue colors of Ukraine’s flag.

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