JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri officials proposed to cancel public contracts with Russian entities and pull Russian products from stores Wednesday as they joined a growing contingent of U.S. states targeting the country over its war against Ukraine.
Republican Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe said he was encouraging retailers to remove Russian products, such as alcohol, from their shelves and replace them with American-made alternatives. Some businesses already have done so, he said.
“Even if it’s a single small sale, it still is a symbol of faith and hope to Ukrainians that we stand with you,” Kehoe said.
The board of the Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System is to meet Thursday to consider divesting its Russian holdings and prohibit the future purchase of Russian securities. The retirement system holds about $9 million in Russian securities through investments handled by external fund managers. That accounts for just 0.07% of the system’s total $13.3 billion portfolio.
House Majority Leader Dean Plocher said the chamber could consider a pro-Ukraine resolution as soon as Thursday.
Plocher also has filed separate legislation that would bar state and local governments from entering into contracts with Russian governmental entities, organizations or businesses. That prohibition also would apply to private-sector entities that receive public funds.
“You have to stand up to these aggressors and the dictators that are trying to subjugate people and wipe out a country,” said Plocher, of St. Louis County.
Plocher’s legislation is one of several Missouri bills targeting Russia.
Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, a Democrat from Independence who serves on the MOSERS board, filed legislation that would ask Missouri voters this November whether to stop doing business with Russia. If approved, it would bar state and local governments and public pension systems from contracting with or investing in “strategic industries” in Russia. Divestiture would have to occur by the end of this year.
A bill by Democratic Rep. Wes Rogers, of Kansas City, would bar Missouri public entities from buying or selling any product made in Russia.
Republican Gov. Mike Parson joined counterparts in several states this week in ordering the Capitol dome to be lit in blue and yellow — the colors of Ukraine’s flag