Russians and Russian controlled companies are now banned from buying property in Indiana for one year after Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill containing the ban into law on Friday.
The ban on Russian property purchases was added as an amendment to Senate Bill 388 and authored by Democrat Ryan Dvorak, who represents South Bend based District 8 in the Indiana Statehouse.
The bill also bans foreign ownership of actively cultivated agricultural or timber land — with exemptions for concentrated animal feeding operations, raising eggs or poultry and research and development — and requires universities to disclose foreign gifts of more than $250,000 dollars to the state.
Dvorak said he’s been interested in the issue since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. Since then, he’s proposed several pieces of legislation forcing state pension funds to divest from Russian controlled assets, but none passed.
But following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Dvorak introduced two amendments to SB 388 — one on pension divestment, and another on Russian property purchases.
The first was struck down by House Speaker Todd Huston as too unrelated to the bill, but the second was adopted. It bars Russians, Russian businesses or Russian-controlled businesses from purchasing property in Indiana from July 1, 2022, to July 1, 2023.
“As far as I can tell, we’re the first state in the country to do that,” Dvorak said. “I think it’s important until we get a real handle on what exactly is happening, what the extent of this investment is, that we say we’re going to have a one-year ban on this.”
Dvorak said the ban is a way of fighting back against money laundering by Russian oligarchs.
“The first thing you think of are big yachts that you see on TV, that are parked in the Mediterranean, or maybe luxury townhouses in London or a condo on Miami Beach,” Dvorak said. “But it’s not all that way — Russian oligarchs have invested in businesses around the world. They buy sports teams; they buy really anything they can to shelter their money and to exert influence.”
Russian citizens living legally in the United States are exempt from the ban.
The final version of the bill passed the House unanimously and passed the Senate 49 to 1. Gov. Eric Holcomb signed it into law on March 18.
Dvorak said it’s a “good place to start” but he still wants to do more.
“It gives us some time to actually come into the next session with maybe some more comprehensive legislation,” Dvorak said. “Hopefully, this crisis will have resolved itself — but if it hasn’t, we would be prepared to take more action.”
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