The Iowa House of Representatives passed a bill prohibiting the state from investing in companies that boycott Israel.
A bill passed on Tuesday by the Iowa House of Representatives – 70-24, with six abstentions – would prohibit state agencies from investing in or contracting with companies that have publicly boycotted Israel, the Des Moines Register reported.
Since 2005, several Palestinian political groups and unions have been urging companies and government agencies to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
Republican Rep. Quentin Stanerson said that no U.S. companies are currently boycotting Israel, according to the Register; however, Democratic Rep. Dennis Cohoon, who served on the three-person subcommittee for the bill, said the bill was important nonetheless and that it was better to act preemptively should the issue become a threat.
Those who voted against the bill claimed that it curtailed the rights of individuals to exercise their First Amendment right to free expression.
Called it an “anti-bullying” bill, Democratic Rep. Mary Wolfe, said the Legislature should focus instead on anti-bullying measures that protect Iowa children, the Register said.
In February, a bipartisan bill, known as the Combating BDS Act of 2016, was introduced into both Houses of Congress that would protect the rights of state and local governments to withdraw their business from companies or entities that engage in BDS.