Texas to amend anti-BDS law

Texas lawmakers amending law banning business with Israel boycotters.

Elad Benari ,

BDS demonstration
BDS demonstration

Texas lawmakers are amending a law banning business with Israel boycotters after the application of the law was vexed by embarrassing incidents and at least one lawsuit, JTA reported on Thursday.

State Rep. Steve King, who authored the original 2017 bill banning the state from doing business with those who abide by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel, authored the amendments to the bill, which the Texas House approved this week in an initial reading.

The bill must pass another reading before heading to the State Senate.

The original law which was approved in 2017 prohibits state agencies from contracting with companies that boycott Israel. The law charges the Texas Comptroller’s Office with making a list of “all companies that boycott Israel” and provide the list to state agencies.

The amended bill, according to JTA, would exempt individuals and businesses valued at less than $100,000 or employing fewer than ten full-time employees from the ban.

In 2017, noted the report Texas recipients of relief in the wake of Hurricane Harvey questioned why they were asked to first pledge not to boycott Israel. Last year, a speech pathologist in the state sued her school district after it included the same requirement in her contract.

Texas is one of over 25 states that have passed anti-BDS legislation in recent years. These include: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, and Virginia.

JTA noted that Kansas last year made similar amendments to its law after a lawsuit brought by a contractor to the state’s Education Department. The Kansas law no longer applies to individuals or sole proprietors.

Last year, a federal judge temporarily blocked the anti-BDS law in Kansas following a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.

In January, a federal US judge let stand the Arkansas law, which requires state contractors to pledge not to boycott Israel.