(JTA) — The Arizona state House of Representatives approved legislation that would bar state and local governments from doing business with companies that boycott Israel and its settlements.
On Monday, the bill passed the House by a vote of 42-16. The Arizona Senate passed the bill last week.
The House bill’s sponsor, Speaker David Gowan, told the Arizona Capital Times that the legislation is about standing with “our dear friend in the Middle East.” Gowan, a Republican, is a congressional candidate.
Arizona becomes one of over 20 states in which bills targeting the BDS movement are under consideration or have passed. It is also among nine states where anti-BDS bills include language extending anti-boycott protection to settlements, a provision that has stirred controversy in the pro-Israel community, with some liberal groups favoring anti-BDS measures that extend protections strictly to Israel within its 1967 borders. A Florida bill passed last week also extends protections to settlements.
The legislation “exercises the state’s own right to choose the companies in which it will invest and with whom it will contract. Exercising such discretion with taxpayer funds is an important part of reinforcing economic interests, public policy and the basic ethical standards of government.
Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, must sign the bill for it to become law.
StandWithUs, a pro-Israel organization, praised the legislation, saying in a statement it “does not raise any 1st Amendment concerns because it does not in any way regulate, penalize, or infringe on anyone’s private speech or conduct. Private parties who wish to boycott Israel can continue to do so freely.”
Colorado passed similar legislation earlier this month.