California’s Anti-BDS Bill in ‘Suspense File’

Gov. Jerry Brown marching with Cesar Chavez in support of farm workers

Today, the California Senate Appropriations Committee voted to send the anti-free speech, anti-BDS bill AB 2844 to suspense.  On August 11, bills in the suspense file will either be passed out for a floor vote or remain in and expire.

The Suspense file is a holding place for bills which carry appropriations over a specific dollar amount. Bills are generally held on the suspense file before the adoption of the Budget Bill and just before the summer recess.

In its analysis of the bill, the Department of Finance opposed it because “it would result in additional costs without providing additional protections against discrimination beyond existing state law. This bill merely requires self certification of compliance with existing law, yet incurs costs to the General Fund, which is inconsistent with the current budget.”  Here’s the DOF’s summary of the bill:

This bill requires a person who submits a bid or proposal to a state agency, or who otherwise proposes to enter into or renew a contract with a state agency, to certify that they have complied with the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Unruh Civil Rights (Unruh) Act. 

The Department of Justice (DOJ) estimates costs of approximately $1 million and four additional permanent staff positions to receive and investigate complaints, and to litigate as necessary. Costs would depend on the number of noncompliance claims initiated. The Department of General Services (DGS) indicates this bill would result in unknown, potentially significant costs to the extent that there are contractors who would be unable to make the required certification. In general, exclusion of bidders from contracts can result in higher contract prices, and thus higher costs to the state and local governments.

AB2844, which was opposed by dozens of civil rights groups across the state, was first introduced in January and has been amended several times. Read my op-ed in the Voice of OC about the bill here. The Los Angeles Times published this editorial opposing the bill.

This bill, along with similar ones in more than 20 states, are the result of a campaign to suppress Palestine human rights activism in the U.S. Israel’s interest in restricting this activism should not override our constitutional right to advocate for change.

Contact the Senate Appropriations Committee members to voice your opposition to the bill, and encourage them to keep it in Suspense (and let it die), and contact your State Senator to encourage her/him to vote no if it comes out of Suspense.

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