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Senate approves divestment in Russia over Ukraine war

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved withdrawing state investments in Russia to protest its nearly nine-month war against Ukraine.

The 50-0 vote on President Don Harmon’s legislation requires divestment of money in Russian banks and companies and prohibits future investments. It’s a pledge the Oak Park Democrat made with Gov. J.B. Pritzker and House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch within three weeks of Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.

“The Illinois Senate joins the international community in denouncing Russian’s ongoing, unconscionable acts of aggression against the Ukrainian people,” Harmon said.

The legislation also provides for other measures to dissuade continued Russian aggression. It requires colleges and universities to disclose endowments provided by Russian companies or other sanctioned sources and gives the Department of Human Services expanded authority to help resettle Ukrainian refugees.

If passed into law, there would be task forces to investigate weaknesses in real estate regulation that might invite Russian money laundering and another to suggest more protections against Russian interference in Illinois elections. Such a breach in 2016 of the Illinois State Board of Elections raised concerns but yielded hackers no sensitive information.

The House unanimously approved the plan in April. Changes the Senate made Wednesday require its return to the House for concurrence.

State law already prohibits investing in Sudan, Iran, and companies that boycott Israel.