Assemblymember Richard Bloom from Santa Monica introduced the “California Combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel Act” (AB 2844) to the California State Assembly last month. This bill seeks to block campaigns critical of the Israeli government’s illegal occupation of Palestine by withholding contracts with California state and local government agencies from companies, like Veolia, that have withdrawn from doing business in Israel because of BDS campaigns. While the bill does not forbid BDS campaigns (that would violate our first amendment rights of free speech) it does interfere with BDS campaigns which the supreme court has ruled are protected by the constitution.
AB 2844 may go before the Appropriations Committee as early as May11th. It has already passed the Administrative and Judiciary committees over staff objections to the constitutionality of the bill. The Arab American Civic Council has joined a coalition of 120 organizations working to defeat the bill. We need people to let their State Assembly members know that they oppose AB 2844. Even if your Assemblymember is not included in the following list of Appropriation Committee members, call or write them. We need to let Sacramento know that a large number of people oppose AB 2844.
Here is the link of AB 2844 to read what is stated:
List of Assemblymembers that we need to tell to vote NO on AB 2844 (“California Combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel Act”) when it goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, May 11th:
Lorena Gonzales (D-San Diego)
Frank Bigelow (R-Jackson)
Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica)
Susan Bonilla (D-Concord)
Rob Bonta (D-Oakland)
Ian Calderon (D-City of Industry)
Tom Daly (D- Anaheim)
Ling-Ling Chang (R-Brea)
James Gallagher (R-Chico)
Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella)
Chris Holden (D-Pasadena)
Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina)
Brian Jones (R-Santee)
Bill Quirk (D-Hayward)
Jay Obernolte (R-Hesperia)
Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles)
Susan Talamantes-Eggman (D-Stockton)
Don Wagner (D-Tustin)
Shirley Weber (D-San Diego)
Jim Wood (D-Eureka)
I strongly oppose AB 2844. This bill remains a misguided, costly attempt to punish First Amendment-protected speech.
As long as the bill aims to punish or chill protected speech, no amendments will satisfy the concerns expressed by the Assembly Judiciary Committee analysis that its First Amendment concerns are “very serious and perhaps insurmountable.” California should avoid the costly and unconstitutional minefield that AB 2844 will create. I urge you to shelve this bill.
AB 2844 would impose substantial burden and expense on state and local government:
- It would require the Attorney General’s Office (AG) to investigate and continually monitor the many thousands of companies that contract or with the state or local public agencies, to discover whether they start or stop engaging in activity the bill seeks to deter.
- The AG would have to maintain and publish a blacklist of such companies, notify those included, hear their appeals and defend the state in court if they sue — which is likely to happen, given how vague and confusing the criteria in AB 2844 are.
- Every state and local government agency that contracts with private business for any purpose would have to disqualify low bidders that appear on the AG blacklist.
- They would also have to seek out new partners when a contract with a blacklisted company ends – even if the company was performing well and its contract could have been renewed in a much simpler, less costly process.
- The state would have to cover all such expenses incurred by local agencies.
- The state would also have to pay for much more complex litigation when the constitutionality of AB 2844 is challenged.
Please leave international politics to the federal government and focus on California priorities. Thank you.