Rhode Island approves anti-boycott legislation

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Rhode Island’s General Assembly has approved legislation that would prohibit the state from contracting with companies that engage in boycotts of allies of the United States, including Israel.

The Anti-Discrimination in State Contracts Act was passed on June 16 by the Rhode Island House by a vote of 63 to 4, and passed “in concurrence” on June 18 by the state Senate.

The legislation states that: “A public entity shall not enter into a contract with a business to acquire or dispose of supplies, services, information technology, or construction unless the contract includes a representation that the business is not currently engaged in, and an agreement that the business will not during the duration of in the boycott of any person, firm or entity based in or doing business with a jurisdiction with whom the state can enjoy open trade, and/or the boycott of any public agencies, entities or instrumentalities of the jurisdiction with whom the state can enjoy open trade.”

“Today’s interdependent global economy requires that trade policy be developed both at the national and state level. One of our greatest trading allies is the state of Israel, the only democratic, non-discriminatory country in the Middle East.” Democratic Rep. Mia Ackerman said in May when she introduced the bill.

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The bill awaits the signature of Rhode Island Gov. Gina M. Raimondo, who is expected to sign the legislation.

Several states have passed anti-BDS legislation, including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and South Carolina. In total, 21 states have taken up anti-BDS legislation.

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