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Lawmakers move to disinvest in Russia

Joel McCord/WYPR
House of Delegates

Both chambers of Maryland’s General Assembly moved Tuesday to pull state pension fund money from investments in Russia in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine.

All 47 Senators signed on to their chamber’s version of the bill. But it was a different story in the House of Delegates, where Calvert County Republican Mark Fisher tried to add a provision to pull investments from China as well, citing that country’s treatment of Uighur Muslims.

He called the Russian invasion of Ukraine an “atrocity…that we should take very seriously,” but said China’s treatment of the Uighurs was equally reprehensible.

“Yes, we should divest from Russia, obviously,” he said. “Should have done it a long time ago. But we also have this opportunity, ladies and gentlemen, to divest from a country that actually is engaging in atrocities that are almost unheard of.”

Del. Kirill Reznik, the Montgomery County Democrat sponsoring the bill, called the amendment a bad idea because no one had done the math on how that would affect the pension fund. That fund has only $7 million invested in Russia, but $3.5 billion in China, he said.

“We are focused right now on one thing on this bill, and that is Russia invading Ukraine,” he said. We are trying to choke off an invading force financially, so that we can try and protect an ally, a democratically elected country that is an ally of ours.”

The amendment failed, 87-45. Both bills will come up for final votes later in the week.

Joel McCord is a trumpet player who learned early in life that that’s no way to make a living.
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