SC Lawmakers seek to restrict business with Russia over Ukraine

SC Lawmakers seek to restrict business with Russia over Ukraine

In all, four bills are making their way through the House and the Senate.

COLUMBIA, SC — A bill to restrict South Carolina’s business with Russia could see movement in the State House this week.

In all, four bills are making their way through the House and the Senate.

A bill introduced by Orangeburg County Sen. Brad Hutto would prohibit the state retirement fund from investing money in Russian-owned businesses. “We have to send a united message to Russia that this is wrong, we are not going to tolerate it,” Hutto said.

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Hutto said Russian investments are only a small part of the state pension fund, so the impact on employees will be minimal. “The first review of the pension plan showed that there was about $33 million out of several billion dollars. It shouldn’t affect anyone’s pension,” Hutto said.

Hutto’s proposal would require administrators to review the fund to see if money is tied up in Russian companies.

Hutto has also tabled a bill that condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In the House, Rep. Russel Fry introduced a bill prohibiting liquor stores from selling alcohol made or produced in Russia.

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Vasyl Babych, whose family lives in Ukraine, is happy to see the efforts.

“I think they’re doing the right thing to cut all the costs with Russia because you don’t want to have any business or pay any money for the abuser,” Babych said.

Babych recently staged a protest at the State House, calling on lawmakers to take some sort of legislative action against the war on Ukraine. Babych says actions speak louder than words.

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“We will fight, we will protest until this passes,” Babych said.

Hutto’s co-sponsor of the bill, Sen. Josh Kimbrell, said he sees no reason why these bills won’t pass.

“As far as I know, there’s unanimous support from both sides for this,” Kimbrell said. “You shouldn’t have anyone trying to hold him back. I think it’s moving really fast.”

Governor McMaster has yet to announce his own executive order sanctions, but according to Kimbrell, “he’s certainly willing to sign the legislation” who currently sits on the committee.

Hutto said the State Retirement Fund bill could be considered by the Senate Finance Committee as early as Tuesday and expects it to pass within the next two weeks.

“The sooner we can pressure Vladimir Putin’s regime and end this illegal war in Ukraine, the better your 401k will do,” Kimbrell said.

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