Each legislative session thousands of bills and amendments are introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature. Only a fraction become law, and an even smaller portion receive wide media coverage.
These bills impact the lives of people living in Pennsylvania every day.
Each week The Sentinel will highlight one bill that has not received widespread attention.
About the bill
Earlier this month, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. Embassy in Israel will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, sparking a heated debate.
Two state representatives have introduced legislation they say is aimed at reaffirming the commitment of Pennsylvania, and the United States, to the Middle East nation.
In two bills Rep. Nick Miccarelli, R-Delaware County, and Rep. Kevin Boyle, D-Delaware County, would limit or bar the government from doing business with companies that have taken a stance against Israel.
“It is vital that Pennsylvania, as a state in the United States of America, do our part to protect our allies such as Israel, as well as our domestic and national interests,” Miccarelli and Boyle wrote in a co-sponsorship letter. “It has always been a central tenet of our foreign policy to protect Israel.”
House Bill 1968 requires the state treasurer and the state public sector retirement programs to divest from any company that is boycotting Israel or has itself divested from Israeli business.
House Bill 1969 bars any company that is boycotting Israel or has divested from Israeli business from receiving a government contract to provide goods or services to the state.
“Although freedom of speech protects anti-Israel sentiment, economic actions such as boycotts of our allies are not acceptable,” the two wrote.
Miccarelli and Boyle’s bills explicitly targets companies boycotting or divesting from Israel. The bills do not explicitly mention any other ally nation of the United States.
Both bills rely on the state Department of General Services to produce a list of companies that have engaged in boycotts of Israel.
Any person added to the list must be notified ahead of time and may appeal the decision. Companies on the list can be awarded contracts on a case-by-case basis for several exceptions, including if the company “has retracted the person’s public announcement of engaging in, or otherwise demonstrates that the person is no longer engaged in, a boycott against or divestment from Israel.”
Any company seeking to receive a contract from the state would be required to provide a certification from the Department of General Services that the company is not on the list, which will be made public on the department’s website, according to the bill.
Falsifying a certification that a company is not contained on the “Scrutinized Companies Boycotting Israel List” is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and three-year suspension of current contracts, according to the bill.