In 2017, Rep. Valarie Hodges addressed Louisiana’s 50th anniversary celebration of the reunification of Jerusalem, at the Capitol in Baton Rouge. (Southern Jewish Life file photo)
A year after Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued an executive order forbidding state agencies from doing business with companies that participate in boycotts of Israel, the Louisiana Legislature has unanimously followed suit with its own anti-BDS bill.
On June 5, the House approved a revised bill that had been passed by the Senate, vastly expanding the original House bill introduced by Rep. Valarie Hodges of Denham Springs.
Her original bill would authorize public entities to reject the lowest bid “for supplies or services” from a company that engages in a boycott, divestment or sanctions campaign against Israel, and award the contract to the next lowest bidder.
The Committee on Appropriations passed it unanimously on April 29, and it passed the House, 96-0, on May 8.
Coincidentally, on May 8, Concerned Women for America’s Louisiana chapter presented Hodges with a Support for Israel Ambassador award.
In the Senate, the bill was referred from the Committee on Finance and amended by Sen. Gerald Long of Winnfield. The amended bill included language discussing the relationship between Israel and Louisiana, and that Louisiana “does not support boycott-related tactics that are used to threaten the sovereignty and security of allies,” including the BDS campaign that seeks to economically isolate Israel. “The state of Louisiana unequivocally rejects the BDS campaign and stands firmly with Israel,” the bill reads.
The revised bill states Louisiana “may not execute a procurement contract with a vendor if that vendor is engaging in a boycott of Israel,” and this is “consistent with existing Louisiana non-discrimination provisions and regulations.”
The law does not apply to contracts of less than $100,000 or with vendors that have fewer than five employees, and a commissioner may waive the requirement if compliance “is not practicable or in the nest interests of the state.”
The amendments were adopted by the Senate on May 30, and the bill passes, 38-0, on June 3.
The House concurred with the revised bill, 85-0, on June 5, after which it was signed by the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate, and sent to Edwards for his signature. The bill takes effect the day after Edwards signs it.
There are currently 27 states that bar doing business with companies that boycott Israel.
In the 1970s, the United States passed legislation prohibiting U.S. companies from participating in the Arab League’s then-boycott of Israel, a boycott that Arab countries also extended to companies doing business in Israel.