COVID-19 Policy Tracker
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Key Takeaways:

  • States do not have much of a role in foreign policy in the federalist system of the United States, but that hasn’t stopped governors and state lawmakers from supporting Ukraine after Russia invaded the sovereign nation in eastern Europe.
  • Over the past two weeks, legislators have introduced 38 resolutions in support of Ukraine. Governors took direct action as well. So far, seven governors have issued executive orders in support of Ukraine against Russia.
  • While much of this state action is symbolic and falls in line with federal sanctions against Russia, the war in Ukraine and the large-scale sanctions against Russia will disrupt key trade and commodity prices that will have a direct effect on the economies in each state.

States do not have much of a role in foreign policy in the federalist system of the United States, but that hasn’t stopped governors and state lawmakers from showing support to the people of Ukraine after Russia invaded the sovereign nation in eastern Europe. 

Over the past few weeks, legislators have introduced 38 resolutions in support of Ukraine. Governors took direct action as well. So far, seven governors have issued executive orders against Russia to show support for Ukraine. Broadly, these orders require state agencies to review and take reasonable steps to terminate existing contracts that directly benefit Russian entities, require the public retirement systems to reevaluate investments in Russian affiliated companies and divest from companies with direct Russian connections, and, in states with state-run liquor stores, to suspend sales of Russian products, like vodka.

Lawmakers, in addition to symbolic resolutions in support of Ukraine, have introduced specific legislation. These bills largely echo the themes in the handful of governors’ executive orders, with an eye on divesting public retirement funds from Russian-linked entities. We’ve tracked a dozen bills in six states that follow that pattern. 

Some bills go further, for example, a bill in Missouri would prohibit state entities and private businesses from contracting with Russia, Russian entities, or any other country currently occupying or attacking a NATO ally. And a bill in Massachusetts would ban the purchase and/or consumption by any and all consumers and entities in the commonwealth of any and all products made in Russia.

New Jersey enacted a new law (NJ SB 1889) that largely echos and ensures compliance with federal sanctions against Russia and Belarus and bars any sanctioned entity from contracting with the state or state retirement funds from investing in those entities. And Indiana lawmakers amended an agriculture bill (IN SB 388) to add a provision that will prohibit business entities connected to Russia or controlled by a Russian citizen from holding and conveying real property located within Indiana. The Indiana bill easily passed both chambers of the legislature and is currently on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature to become law. 

While much of this state action is symbolic and falls in line with federal sanctions against Russia, the war in Ukraine and the large-scale sanctions against Russia will disrupt key trade and commodity prices that will have a direct effect on the economies in each state. This is already being felt through gasoline prices and state policymakers are debating whether to suspect state gas taxes in order to dampen the blow to consumers’ pocketbooks.