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Mass. State Senator pushing for legislative change for Russia

Local leaders have been responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by pushing for legislative changes here in the Bay State.
Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 7:38 PM EST
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WESTFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Local leaders have been responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by pushing for legislative changes here in the Bay State.

State Senator John Velis toured not once, but twice in Afghanistan in the last decade. He told Western Mass News that he is still working to get refugees out of the country, and now, following Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine, he is determined to help those in need.

“It’s absolutely mind-boggling what President Putin has decided to do, and I think it is absolutely paramount that he and Russia, as an extension of him, be punished to the fullest extent,” Senator Velis said.

Following a Russian invasion of Ukraine, he told Western Mass News that he is taking a stand at the state level.

“There needs to be consequences from every single direction, and I think there’s a rule for all levels of government to play,” Senator Velis added.

Along with Republican Minority Leader Brad Jones, Senator Velis has filed a bill that would divest Massachusetts pension funds from Russian-backed companies.

“Again, I think any steps we can take to send a very clear unambiguous message that you cannot do this,” he said.

The state senator served as a major in the U.S. Army Reserve for two tours in Afghanistan, and he told us that his past experiences are spurring him to do something now.

“When you see up close and personal the human cost, the human toll of that war, it brings it home and it makes you wanna help these people out,” Senator Velis explained.

He said local business owners can take actionable steps of their own.

“Package store owners not selling Russian vodka, putting Ukrainian vodka at the front of the aisle, things like that,” he added.

Senator Velis also announced moving forward, his state senate office will help gather supplies for the people who need them.

“We as an office, as a state senate office, are going to soon be a launching point for collecting clothes and goods from the community to get those over to Ukraine,” Senator Velis said.

He told us to expect more details coming soon about his collection, but he said that money, clothes, food, and whatever you want to donate to help will be accepted. He is looking to send it out as quickly as possible.

To find out how you can help, you can contact Senator Velis’s office here or call 617-722-1415.