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7/18/2016 Rep. Ackerman’s Anti-Discrimination in State Contracts Act is signed into law by governor
STATE HOUSE — A bill introduced by Rep. Mia Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) banning discrimination in state contracts that has garnered international attention has been signed into law by Gov. Gina Raimondo.

The new law (2016-H 7736) prohibits public entities from entering into contracts with businesses that engage in the boycott of any business based in or doing business with a jurisdiction with whom the state can enjoy open trade. The act effectively prohibits the state from investing in or contracting with companies that engage in boycotts of allies and trade partners of the United States, including the state of Israel.

“Today’s interdependent global economy requires that trade policy be developed both at the national and state level. One of our greatest trading allies is the state of Israel, the only democratic, non-discriminatory country in the Middle East.”

The law states that “A public entity shall not enter into a contract with a business to acquire or dispose of supplies, services, information technology, or construction unless the contract includes a representation that the business is not currently engaged in, and an agreement that the business will not during the duration of in the boycott of any person, firm or entity based in or doing business with a jurisdiction with whom the state can enjoy open trade, and/or the boycott of any public agencies, entities or instrumentalities of the jurisdiction with whom the state can enjoy open trade.”

Representative Ackerman also pointed out the potential economic benefits of the legislation, saying “Rhode Island is at a crossroads and we need to reinvigorate our economy. This is especially true of new industries such as high-tech, science and medical and other knowledge-based industry. Though other states have passed similar legislation, Rhode Island is the first to do so in New England. Businesses will choose Rhode Island from among other states when they are looking to locate in a place where there is a non-discriminatory atmosphere.”

 Joseph Sabag, a policy director from Washington, D.C., echoed those sentiments when he testified in May on behalf of the legislation before the House Finance Committee. He said, “This is something you should think of in terms of defending the state’s economic interest and defending the state’s employment interests. This bill regulates commercial activity. It has no effect whatsoever on private activity.”

In a statement, Bracha Stuart, executive director of StandWithUs-Rhode Island, said, “Representative Ackerman deserves praise for sponsoring and championing (the law) which defends Rhode Island’s economic interests against attempts to weaken its ability to conduct trade with Israel.”

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903