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Bipartisan legislation would require PERSI to divest from Russian currency and assets

Starting this fiscal year, documents show PERSI had more than $8.3 million invested in Russian currency known as the ruble.

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho lawmakers in a bi-partisan effort are looking to divest millions of dollars away from Russian assets and currency.

Boise Democrat Rep. John Gannon and Nampa Republican Rep. Bruce Skaug released a piece of draft legislation that would require the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho (PERSI) to sell, trade or completely divest itself of Russian currency or any other Russian Government asset.

This move would follow other states, like Colorado, where their Public Employees' Retirement Association is divesting $7.2 million from a Russian bank.

"I don't think it's a good investment to invest in a country run by someone like Putin," Rep. Gannon said. "If we're gonna help them we need to do it immediately. Not next week, or not next month."

Credit: Rep. John Gannon
Draft legislation by Rep. John Gannon and Rep. Bruce Skaug

At the beginning of this fiscal year starting on June 30, 2021, public documents show PERSI had $3,539,625,425 worth of value invested in various international currencies. PERSI had $8,378,200 invested in the Russian Ruble.

"We're not gonna change the world. But, we certainly need to do our part to support peace in the world," Rep. Gannon said.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine is personal to Rep. Skaug. He told KTVB in a statement, "My son-in-law is an immigrant from Ukraine. He was present in the first Russian incursion. His friends are now armed and hunting Russian soldiers. Idaho should divest from all investments and business involvement with Russia so long as its soldiers are in Ukraine.”

Russia's currency, the ruble, is at it's lowest level in history compared to the US dollar.

"It's a lousy investment," Rep. Gannon said.

Rep Gannon expects to introduce this draft Tuesday in the State Affairs Committee. As it's currently written, the draft has an emergency clause placing it into effect immediately after signing.

The draft would allow PERSI seven days to evaluate its investments and comply with the law in the event this draft becomes a bill and is signed into law.

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