Firms with ties to Russia, Belarus barred by New Jersey law

March 9, 2022 GMT
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, wearing a mask with the Ukraine coat of arms, arrives for his budget address in Trenton, N.J., Tuesday, March 8, 2022. New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has proposed a $48.9 billion budget that boosts K-12 funding, makes a full public pension payment for the second straight year, redistributes nearly $1 billion in property tax relief and raises overall spending by about 5% over last year's plan. Murphy unveiled the proposal during a speech Tuesday in the Assembly chamber, the first time since 2020 and the COVID-19 outbreak. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, wearing a mask with the Ukraine coat of arms, arrives for his budget address in Trenton, N.J., Tuesday, March 8, 2022. New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has proposed a $48.9 billion budget that boosts K-12 funding, makes a full public pension payment for the second straight year, redistributes nearly $1 billion in property tax relief and raises overall spending by about 5% over last year's plan. Murphy unveiled the proposal during a speech Tuesday in the Assembly chamber, the first time since 2020 and the COVID-19 outbreak. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, wearing a mask with the Ukraine coat of arms, arrives for his budget address in Trenton, N.J., Tuesday, March 8, 2022. New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has proposed a $48.9 billion budget that boosts K-12 funding, makes a full public pension payment for the second straight year, redistributes nearly $1 billion in property tax relief and raises overall spending by about 5% over last year's plan. Murphy unveiled the proposal during a speech Tuesday in the Assembly chamber, the first time since 2020 and the COVID-19 outbreak. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, wearing a mask with the Ukraine coat of arms, arrives for his budget address in Trenton, N.J., Tuesday, March 8, 2022. New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has proposed a $48.9 billion budget that boosts K-12 funding, makes a full public pension payment for the second straight year, redistributes nearly $1 billion in property tax relief and raises overall spending by about 5% over last year's plan. Murphy unveiled the proposal during a speech Tuesday in the Assembly chamber, the first time since 2020 and the COVID-19 outbreak. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, wearing a mask with the Ukraine coat of arms, arrives for his budget address in Trenton, N.J., Tuesday, March 8, 2022. New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has proposed a $48.9 billion budget that boosts K-12 funding, makes a full public pension payment for the second straight year, redistributes nearly $1 billion in property tax relief and raises overall spending by about 5% over last year's plan. Murphy unveiled the proposal during a speech Tuesday in the Assembly chamber, the first time since 2020 and the COVID-19 outbreak. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed Wednesday legislation aimed at barring companies with ties to Russia or Belarus from doing business with the state.

The bipartisan measure passed the Legislature with no opposition this week and is aimed at punishing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime, as well as the government of Belarus over its support of the invasion of Ukraine.

“New Jersey cannot and will not stand idly by as a tin-pot dictator invades the free and independent nation of Ukraine,” Murphy said. “We are sending a strong message today to Vladimir Putin and his cronies in Belarus that their actions will not be tolerated.”

The measure is the latest effort by a U.S. state to boost the financial pressure on Russia over the war. Some actions were purely symbolic, like lighting up state buildings in the colors of the Ukrainian flag, but others like Indiana sought to passed legislation to block Russian-controlled businesses and nonprofits from acquiring property in in the state.

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Under New Jersey’s law, the state Treasury will compile a list of people and entities with investments in Russia or Belarus. Those on the list won’t be permitted to contract with state agencies, file for or renew public works contracts, get state subsidies or municipal tax abatements, among other barred deals.

The law also blocks the state pension from investing in companies owned or controlled by the Russian or Belarusian government.

It’s unclear the impact the measure will have.

The state’s more than $90 billion pension fund had “exposure” to about $50 million in Russian investments as of the end of February, according to the Treasury. Legislative analysts said the financial fallout of the measure was unclear and depends on the number of companies affected and how much of an investment the firms have that would require divestment.

The effect of sanctions by U.S. states often pales in comparison to national ones, but state officials said they wanted to show solidarity with Ukraine and do what they could to build upon the penalties imposed on Russia by the U.S. government and other Western nations.

Murphy’s signing of the law comes just a day after he unveiled his $48.9 billion budget proposal, which he delivered standing alongside the Ukrainian flag — along with the American and state flags. During the address, he had invited Metropolitan Antony of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the United States to deliver a prayer and short speech.

“New Jersey stands in support of the international efforts to bolster the Ukrainian resistance and the economic sanctions against Putin and his crony government,” Murphy said.