In an overwhelmingly majority vote, the Ohio House of Representatives passed legislation prohibiting the state from contracting with companies that participate in boycotts on Israel, with which the state has booming commercial connections.
Ohio’s House of Representatives on Wednesday passed new legislation that targets businesses or other entities engaged in the anti-Israel boycott movement, marking the latest victory in the fight against the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement on the US state level.
Bill 476, which was introduced in February, was approved by an 81-13 vote. Five members did not vote.
The new legislation prohibits a state agency from contracting with a company that is boycotting or disinvesting from Israel and requires companies to explicitly state in contracts declaring they are not boycotting or disinvesting from Israel, an agreement that would last throughout the duration of the contract.
Rep. Kirk Schuring is the primary sponsor of the bill. There are 13 co-sponsors, including Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger.
“Our state’s relationship with Israel generates more than $200 million of economic benefit for Ohio each year,” Schuring said in a statement, according to the Cleveland Jewish News. “This legislation provides more opportunities for Ohio to continue its strong alliance with Israel, as well as bolster our economy here at home.”
The ACLU of Ohio issued a statement saying it opposes the bill, claiming it is an “unwarranted attack on First Amendment rights” because it “severely restricts the right to speak out or take action based on political beliefs.”
The bill now moves to the Ohio Senate.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed an executive order banning state agencies from investing in companies that support boycotts on Israel.
More than 20 states are considering, or have passed, legislation targeting companies that comply with the anti-Israel BDS movement, and many countries around the world have introduced and passed similar laws.
The BDS movement promotes financial, academic and cultural boycotts against Israel, ostensibly as a nonviolent struggle against the so-called “Israeli occupation.”
Critics say its activities are a modern form of anti-Semitism, and its true objective is to destroy the State of Israel.