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Inslee directive bans state contracts with Russian government entities

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Gov. Jay Inslee last Friday issued a directive to cabinet agencies that bans new contracts and investments with Russian state entities, and charges agencies with identifying and ultimately cutting existing contracts that may exist. The directive follows Russian President Vladimir Putin's unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine that began Feb. 23.

"This invasion, which continues, has resulted in grievous loss of life among Ukrainian military personnel and civilians, and it has sparked a historic refugee crisis with global impacts--including for Washington state's large Ukrainian, Russian, and other Eastern European communities," Inslee wrote in the directive. "Virtually the entire world, including governments, businesses, and ordinary citizens, have united in condemnation of this unjust invasion, resulting in unprecedented economic sanctions upon Russian state institutions and leaders.

"As the world responds to this crisis with humanitarian and military aid, Washington State must also do its part in this common effort."

The directive targets any potential contracts or investments with Russian government agencies, or with companies that are, to any extent, Russian-state-owned, or with entities or individuals sanctioned by the United States government in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Information regarding U.S. government sanctions against Russia can be found on the websites of the U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration and the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Current estimates are not yet available regarding current or planned contracts or procurements with Russian entities. Additional actions may be announced as events warrant.

The directive, effective immediately, also instructs state agencies to refrain from entering into new contracts or investments with the same entities subject to federal sanctions. Each agency's initial review and summary is due to the governor's general counsel no later than March 18. After reviewing each agency's findings, the governor's office will provide further guidance.

The Washington State Investment Board, an independent board that oversees the state's retirement and public trust investments, is also taking steps to restrict purchasing of Russian investments. The WSIB reports less than $100 million of investment exposure to Russia, which is less than 0.10 percent of WSIB's total assets. Inslee's directive invites public agencies like the State Investment Board, as well as separately elected officials and private organizations, to conduct similar review of their operations.

Promising Pathway
to Permanent Housing

Inslee met with former True Hope Village resident Tracy Williams, who found permanent housing through the rapid supportive housing program after a six-month stay in 2020. Williams is one of tens of thousands of Washingtonians who have found themselves homeless over the last decade. The latest point-in-time data aggregated by the Office of Financial Management in 2020 put the state's homeless population at more than 83,000. About half were in King County.

"When I moved in, I had two storage containers of clothes, I felt very hopeless, I didn't like myself, I didn't care about myself," Williams told Gov. Jay Inslee during a kitchen roundtable Tuesday at True Hope. "But when I got here, I felt safe, secure. I was able to wash my clothes, take showers."

"Homelessness is a crisis, it's big, it's in every city in Washington. We need action," Inslee said. "We need emergency services, we need rapid supportive housing, we need long-term housing -- we need all of these things."

Inslee Inks Laws
to Clarify Police Reform

Gov. Jay Inslee signed nine bills Friday, including two that clarify portions of the police reform package passed by the Legislature last year.

In 2021, legislators passed a package of laws designed to create clear expectations for officer behavior; to set a baseline for the acceptable use of force, tactics, and equipment, and to put into place better systems of accountability and transparency. There has been challenges in the implementation of these laws that are addressed by these bills. HB 1719 and HB 1735 removed ambiguity from statute that had led some departments to stop using less lethal munitions and stop responding to community caretaking calls. Both bills had an emergency clause and are now in effect.

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