Budget conference: Florida Legislature takes aim at Russia in last-minute budget deal

By Gary Rohrer
March 14, 2022

DMS will conduct a review of all state funds spent on Russian goods and services.

Florida state agencies and local governments won’t be able to enter into cultural agreements or accept grants from Russian entities starting July 1, after House and Senate budget negotiators inserted the ban into the final budget agreement Thursday.

It’s part of a renewed scrutiny lawmakers are applying to Florida’s deals with Russia after its invasion of neighboring Ukraine last month made it a pariah among many Western countries, which swiftly passed sanctions against President Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Old and new State Capitol buildings in Tallahassee, FL.

As part of that scrutiny, the Department of Management Services will conduct a review of all state funds spent on Russian goods and services and issue a report to the Legislature by Dec. 1.

The provisions, which were not part of previous budget talks, were agreed to by House and Senate leaders as part of HB 5003, the implementing bill for the overall budget.

Russia was one of seven countries listed as a “foreign country of concern” in a law passed last year that barred universities, colleges, state agencies and local governments from entering into agreements or accepting funds from countries that “Promote an agenda detrimental to the safety or security of the United States.” The other countries were Syria, North Korea, China, Cuba, Iran and Venezuela.

Florida, though, also has $300 million invested in Russian-owned assets and companies, but GOP legislative leaders and Gov. Ron DeSantis haven’t moved to prohibit state investments in Russian companies, as some Democrats have urged them to do.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday said the U.S. will ban oil and gas imports from Russia.