Texas Governor signs amendment to anti-BDS law

Texas Governor signs legislation that limits the scope of a law banning the state from doing business with Israel boycotters.

Elad Benari ,

Texas Governor Greg Abbott
Texas Governor Greg Abbott

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed legislation that limits the scope of a law already on the books that bans the state from doing business with Israel boycotters, JTA reported on Sunday.

The new legislation exempts individuals and businesses valued at less than $100,000 or employing fewer than ten full-time employees from the ban on doing business with companies who abide by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel.

The new legislation comes two weeks after a federal judge issued a temporary injunction against the enforcement of the state law after hearing testimony from a Palestinian Arab speech pathologist who lost her contract with a Texas school district for refusing to sign a contract that said she does not boycott Israel.

Following the signing of the new legislation on Tuesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who had appealed the preliminary injunction to the Fifth Circuit US Court of Appeals, filed a motion to dismiss the federal lawsuit brought by several Texas contractors who claimed it violated their right to free speech, the Houston Chronicle reported.

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

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.

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.

The amendments came after 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.