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Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Legislature begins taking action in response to Ukraine invasion

Sarlo bill to halt public business with Russia advances through committee

By Joey Fox, February 28 2022 5:41 pm

The New Jersey Senate and Assembly moved forward on two pieces of legislation today drafted in response to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has drawn condemnation from the vast majority American politicians and observers.

The more impactful of the bills, sponsored by State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge), would prohibit public entities in New Jersey from doing business with Russia or companies that have close ties with the Russian government. Sarlo fast-tracked the bill through his own committee, the Budget and Appropriations Committee, where it was unanimously advanced.

“We need to target Russia’s economic pressure points to make them pay a price for launching a war of aggression against a free people and the democratically elected government of Ukraine,” Sarlo said in a statement after the bill’s release. “The Russian playbook is to shift investments around to try to hide them from accountability. New Jersey and other states can help cut off these financial maneuvers with restrictions that will reinforce international sanctions.”

The Assembly, meanwhile, unanimously approved a more generic resolution sponsored by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-South Amboy) and Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio (R-Hackettstown) that condemns the Russian invasion and affirms support for Ukrainian independence.

“As a unified chamber, the New Jersey General Assembly condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and any actions by Russia to escalate the conflict further,” DiMaio said on the Assembly floor. “We stand in solidarity with the brave Ukrainian citizens fighting for independence in the face of Russia’s violence.”

The Senate’s next voting session is this Thursday, so the two pieces of legislation will presumably be put up for a vote then. But the Assembly doesn’t have a scheduled voting session until March 24, meaning that for Sarlo’s time-sensitive bill to be passed within a reasonable timeframe, the chamber will have to call an additional session, possibly before next week’s gubernatorial budget address.

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