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Tarr among legislators seeking state pension funds to divest from Russian investments

BOSTON — In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, state senator Bruce Tarr has co-sponsored a bill with bipartisan support that mandates divestment from all Russian investments from public pension funds managed by the state.


The bill would also cut off access to cash and securities controlled by the Russian Federation or by companies headquartered in Russia within banks subject to oversight by the commonwealth, Tarr said in a statement Thursday. 

The Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) manages a portfolio of investments worth $86.9 billion in assets last year.

The Senate minority leader, Tarr said the bill authorizes the governor to end state contracts that would benefit the Russian government or Russian companies.

“Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified attacks have brought nations together, and Massachusetts should vigorously pursue options to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the global coalition supporting Ukraine,” Tarr said. 

“The people of Massachusetts deserve a way to show support for Ukraine’s fight for freedom. This bill sends a clear signal that we will do our part for democracy in the world.”

SD 3025, or “An Act to Combat Unjust Acts of War by Russia,” provides state treasurer Deborah Goldberg with the statutory authority that she says is necessary for the state’s public employee retirement funds to sever financial ties with Russia. 

“I do not have the legal authority to act unilaterally to divest PRIT Fund holdings. Divestment requires an act of the legislature,” Goldberg wrote in a letter to lawmakers in response to a request originated by House minority leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading).  

“Russia’s aggressive and unwarranted military action against the citizens of Ukraine … cannot go unchallenged,” said Jones. “This bill sends a clear message that the commonwealth stands in solidarity with the Ukrainian people,” he added.

“My expectation is that we set the example and more states will join us in this effort to show Russia that senseless acts will not go unpunished,” said said state senator Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth).

Major components of the bill include those which:

  • Divest pension funds from investments in Russia and Russian companies 
  • Terminate state contracts that benefit Russia
  • Prevent access by Russia and Russian companies to assets in Massachusetts financial institutions.

The governor, secretary of state, and the Division of Banks, in addition to the treasurer, would be authorized to take action to cut off cash and securities owned or controlled by Russian assets under the bill.


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