Last Wednesday, Arkansas State Governor William Hutchinson signed a law, Act 710, to prohibit Arkansas agencies from investing in or contracting with companies that boycott Israel. Act 710, previously SB 513, was passed by the Arkansas state legislature on March 22nd.
SB 513 was introduced by Sen. Bart Hester to the state Senate, where it passed with a vote of 29-0 and one abstention, and was sent to the House in February. There, the bipartisan measure passed on its third reading by a vote of 69 to 3.
The new act ensures that Arkansas taxpayer funds will not finance the anti-Semitic tactics of the BDS movement. Boycotts have “become a tool of economic warfare” in Arizona that “threatens the sovereignty and security of key allies and trade partners,” namely, the State of Israel. Act 710 maintains that the strategic refusal to engage in commercial relations with Israeli trade partners is discriminatory and unsound.
Arkansas will now “implement Congress’s announced policy of ‘examining a company’s promotion or compliance with unsanctioned boycotts, divestment from, or sanctions against Israel as part of its consideration in awarding grants and contracts.’” The legislation guarantees state divestment of companies that “support or promote actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel,” reaffirming the strong relationship between Arkansas and Israel.
Act 710 makes Arkansas the 19th state to enact a binding anti-BDS law. At the end of last year, Michigan and Ohio passed similar legislation, following measures in Pennsylvania in November, California in September, New Jersey in August, and Rhode Island in June. Maryland and Texas are currently debating anti-BDS laws in their respective legislatures.
The complete text of Act 710 can be found here.