Israel boycott bill

Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, moves to introduce a bill Monday that would prohibit Idaho from dealing with companies boycotting Israel, but with the caveat that he may not support it at its full hearing.

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BOISE — Idaho may become the next state to prohibit doing business with companies boycotting Israel.

The bill introduced by an Idaho House panel Monday would prohibit Idaho from entering into a contract with a company without written certification that the company is not boycotting Israel and will not do so for the duration of the contract. At least 15 states have passed similar legislation.

Such laws have sparked controversy, however. Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the states of Arizona and Kansas for violating U.S. citizens’ first amendment rights. The ACLU has cited a 1982 Supreme Court decision that the right of states to regulate commerce does ‘’not justify a complete prohibition against a nonviolent, politically motivated boycott designed to force governmental and economic change and to effectuate rights guaranteed by the Constitution.’’

On the other hand, a current federal law, 50 U.S. Code 4607, says the president of the United States should make regulations to prohibit citizens from taking action to support boycotts of foreign countries friendly with the U.S.

Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, said while he supports the sentiment of the bill, putting the language into code could create difficulties down the road.

“I’m very pro-Israel and it disgusts me that companies are boycotting it, but … why a bill instead of a resolution?” Clow asked. “Because if a year from now, if something major changes and we’re all upset with Israel, then we have this in law.”

Sponsor of the bill Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa, said she agreed and had just followed the path other states have taken.

Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, moved to introduce the bill, with the caveat that he “may not support it in State Affairs,” the committee it would receive a full hearing in. His comment was met with laughter.

“Completely understood,” Perry said. “But I believe it’s worth the conversation.”

Nina Rydalch covers the 2018 Idaho Legislature for the University of Idaho McClure Center for Public Policy Research.

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