Texas Rep to File Anti-BDS Bill by Aaron Howard

November 11, 2016

Texas rep to file anti-BDS bill

Thu, Nov 10, 2016

In the battle of ideas, one Texas legislator is taking on the BDS movement’s attempt to get state universities and other governmental entities to cut ties with Israel.

State Rep. Phil King, R-District 61, will file a bill against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement on Nov. 14.

The anti-BDS bill would require companies that contract with any government entity in Texas to verify they do not and will not boycott Israel. The bill also would prohibit state pension and endowment funds, such as the Teacher Retirement System and The University of Texas Investment Management Company from making investments with companies that boycott Israel. Texas pension and endowment funds currently are worth an estimated $270 billion dollars.

Fourteen states have passed anti-BDS legislation as of last week. Speaking to the Jewish Herald-Voice, Rep. King noted that most of those state legislatures passed anti-BDS bills by a near unanimous vote.

“We expect bipartisan support of the anti-BDS bill in the Texas House in the 85th (2017) session,” said King. “The state recognizes that economic warfare is not something most Texans approve of when it’s aimed against a friend of Texas. The BDS movement is directed at harming and destroying Israel, pure and simple.”

Enforcement of the law would be similar to what currently is in place in the Iran and Sudan sanctions. The state comptroller would have the responsibility of compiling a list of companies boycotting Israel. The comptroller then would notify those out of compliance that the state will divest from company stock holdings if they continue to boycott.

King represents Parker and Wise counties in the Texas Legislature. He currently serves as chair of the State and Federal Power and Responsibility Committee. He also serves on the Energy Resources Committee, Environmental Regulation Committee and the Select Committee on Federal Environmental Regulation. He serves as a colonel in the Texas State Guard and is a member of Trinity Bible Church.

Neither Parker nor Wise counties have a significant population of Jewish voters. King said there were four reasons he was motivated to sponsor this bill.

“First, as a Christian, my religious heritage is intrinsically linked to Israel and to the Jewish people. Second, as an American, our national security is dependent in great part on a strong Israel, often our only friend in the Middle East. Third, as a Texas legislator, our state has a substantial Jewish population and this issue is important to them. Texans have historical ties and do a lot of business with Israel. Fourth, it’s just the right thing to do.”

King sponsored a resolution (HR 44) in 83R (the 2013 Session) that commended Israel “for its cordial and mutually beneficial relationship with the United States and with the State of Texas.” The bill resolved to “support Israel in its legal, historical, moral and God-given right of self-governance and self-defense upon the entirety of its own lands, recognizing that Israel is neither an attacking force nor an occupier of the lands of others, and that peace can be afforded the region only through a whole and united Israel.”

An active member of the Trinity Bible Church, King said he believes the Christian religion springs from Judaism. “You can’t have Christianity without having a literal, historical and spiritual Israel,” he noted.

King plans to pre-file the bill on Nov. 14. Pre-filing gets the paper process started, prior to the next legislative session. The bill will get an HB number, depending on the order filed and assigned.

The next legislative session begins Jan. 10. The bill probably will be referred to a House committee some time in late January. The committee will have a hearing on the bill, most likely in late February.

“Hopefully, the bill will pass out of committee sometime in March,” said King. “My hope is it will get to the House floor in early April. At that time, my hope is it will be taken up in the Texas Senate where the bill’s sponsor is Sen. Brandon Creighton, R- District 4. “I hope to have it passed by both bodies in May. We’ve got to get it done now, since the Texas legislature meets every two years. This bill has a lot of support in both the Jewish and Christian communities.”

The anti-BDS bill would have to be signed by the governor before it becomes law.