The Texas Senate has unanimously delivered a letter to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick requesting an interim charge to protect state assets due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 22, 2022. As the world has witnessed the Russian invasion of Ukraine over the past few days, ordered by the Russian President Vladimir Putin, there is concern that some assets of the State of Texas might be at risk. The original letter was turned in Friday, February 25, 2022 by Senator Bettencourt. Due to the severity of the situation in Ukraine, Senator Bettencourt asked his colleagues to sign on to the letter.
"We must take steps to protect Texas Taxpayer Assets from Totalitarian Regimes that go to war on Democracies without reason or provocation, and could change investment rules at the snap of a finger," stated Senator Bettencourt.
In order to protect the state's investment assets and condemn this Russian Federation aggression, the following interim charge is proposed: "An interim charge to study the feasibility that calls for the state's comptroller to, "prepare and maintain, and provide to each state governmental entity, a list of all companies that invest in the Russian Federation." The state's asset owners would be required to notify those companies of their inclusion on the list and give 90 days to divest their positions.
Senator Whitmire, the Dean of the Senate, said,"It's time to set partisanship aside and unite to do everything we can to isolate Russia from any Texas economic ties."
The U.S. Treasury Department has imposed sanctions and limited the financial capabilities of certain individuals, banks, and financial markets in the Russian Federation. Following their country-wide attack, it is clear that the invasion not only imposes a risk to world stability, but also a potential risk of investment losses if a state government entity has funds currently invested in Russia or Russian Federation associated equities. The language in the Interim Charge Request mirrors the type language in Senate Bill 13 from the Regular Session which passed 28 to 3 dealing with financial company boycotts. Governor Abbott signed it on June 14, 2021. It became effective on September 1, 2021.
"Because Texas was an Independent Republic, our Texan Hearts go out to those Ukrainians fighting for their freedom as Texans once did, especially on this day, March 2nd, Texas Independence Day," concluded Senator Bettencourt.
If those investments are not changed in 90 days, the state funds would be required to, "sell, redeem, divest, or withdraw all publicly traded securities of the company." The funds that would be subject to possible divestment include: Texas Teacher Retirement System, Texas County & District Retirement System, Texas Permanent School Fund, Texas Municipal Retirement System, Texas Employees Retirement System, Texas Emergency Services Retirement System, and UTIMCO.
Letter to the Lieutenant Governor attached: https://senate.texas.gov/members/d07/press/en/p20220302a.pdf