AB 2844 remains alive and moving through the Senate.
The bill would deny state contracts of over $100,000 to any business seeking to work with the state if they engage in boycotts of any nation at our behest.
Had this been law in the 1980s, it would have ended all efforts that we used so well in challenging apartheid in South Africa. It penalizes companies such as General Motors for refusing to do business with a nation state engaging in pernicious actions towards its own people or others in surrounding areas. We have seen the positive impact of such actions in bringing parties in disputes to the table to hammer our peaceful solutions to intolerable wrongs. Economic sanctions are and always have been a key strategy toward peace.
Many of our denominations are using or considering using such actions on a number of fronts. This bill was originally targeting only such work in Israel, but it now has been expanded to include any nation not on a federal list of prohibited interaction. This is a great injustice and imposes huge restrictions on your work toward peace.
The bill has been sent to Senate Appropriations. The committee chair is Senator Ricardo Lara. We need to have you express your individual or group opposition to this bill and its unacceptable restraint of First Amendment actions.
California Church IMPACT's letter of opposition states:
June 29, 2016
Hon. Ricardo Lara, Chair
California Senate Appropriations
Sacramento, CA 95814 AB 2844 – OPPOSE
Dear Senator Lara:
California Church IMPACT represents 1.5 million members within the mainstream and progressive Protestant communities of faith. We are deeply committed to interfaith work, especially with respect to our brothers and sisters in the Abrahamic traditions. We uphold those powerful ties even in disagreements on political matters as well as upholding our US Constitutional rights to protest, regardless of the substance.
We are pained that AB 2844, in an effort to protect a valuable and beloved ally, the state of Israel, has taken what we see as a highly illegal and dubious approach to that protection. Denying contracts to companies that engage in boycotts based on principled opposition to any nation’s actions, is horrifying. It is massive over-reach and has grave, probably unintended consequences.
The amended bill now bars exactly what worked in our fight against apartheid in South Africa. Had the faith and secular communities not succeeded in getting U.S. firms to boycott that pernicious action, it likely would still exist.
Many of us are discussing boycotts of nations that have adopted “death to gays” legislation. If this tool is removed from our capacity for moral persuasion, such laws will progress unimpeded. Any nation that remains recognized by our federal government yet operates in pernicious ways to its own people, ethnic minorities, or any other population should be reasonable targets for both our federal diplomacy and our individual and organizational right to persuade companies to stop doing business with them.
This bill does great violence to our religious values, our private conscience, and to our non-violent political actions. No member takes raising a boycott lightly or impetuously. It comes out of a desire to stop harm by exerting economic pressure that calls a nation back to the table to resume finding humane and effective diplomatic solutions. By punishing companies acting at our behest upon our conscience, AB 2844 harms them and us equally. We urge you to oppose this bill.
Please send you opposition to Senator Lara via email to his Chief of Staff: Erika.Contreras@sen.ca.gov and to Senate Appropriations via the Consultant, Josie.Onodera@sen.ca.gov
If you prefer, you may send your letter by FAX to Senator Lara at 916-651-4933. His Capitol office phone is 916-651-4033. Senate Appropriations does not maintain its own FAX.
Please let your voices be raised on this issue. It is an important advocacy for our peace making worldwide.