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Overview

Texas has an amended anti-boycott law (HB 793) in effect, which prohibits state contracts with and state investment in entities that boycott Israel or territories occupied by Israel. In 2019, a federal court blocked enforcement of the earlier Texas anti-boycott law (HB 89), finding that it would likely violate the First Amendment. Lawmakers subsequently narrowed the law to exclude sole proprietors, companies with fewer than 10 employees, and contracts worth less than $100,000. The legislature has introduced several other anti-boycott bills and resolutions that condemn boycotts for Palestinian rights. In 2021, the legislature passed a bill adopting the distorted IHRA definition of antisemitism as part of creating a Holocaust, Genocide, and Antisemitism Advisory Commission. The law will go into effect in September 2021.

State Legislation

Legislation
HB 3257 (2021)
Status
Pending
Introduced
March 2021
Type(s)
Antisemitism Redefinition
Full Text
Read HB 3257 (2021) 

HB 3257 is an antisemitism redefinition bill that incorporates the problematic examples found in the distorted IHRA definition of antisemitism and establishes the Texas Holocaust, Genocide, and Antisemitism Advisory Commission. The IHRA definition’s contemporary examples conflate criticism of Israel with antisemitism and include “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” and “Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” The bill requires the advisory commission to prepare a biennial report on antisemitism in Texas based on this definition and to provide advice and assistance to public and private educational institutions regarding methods of combating antisemitism. The law will go into effect in September 2021. 

Legislation
HB 793
Status
In Effect
In Effect Since
May 2019
Type(s)
Anti-boycott, State Contracts, State Investments
Full Text
Read HB 793 

HB 793 amends Texas’ 2017 anti-boycott law (HB 89) to exclude sole proprietors, companies with fewer than 10 employees, and contracts worth less than $100,000 from the prohibition on state contracts with companies that boycott Israel or persons or entities doing business in Israel or territories it occupies. A federal court blocked enforcement of HB 89 in April 2019, finding that the law would likely violate the First Amendment. These amendments, which are designed to remove the plaintiffs challenging the law from its reach, may reduce the number of individuals affected by the law, but fail to resolve the underlying constitutional issues.  

The amended law leaves in place the written certification requirement for state contractors as well as the creation of a blacklist of companies in which state retirement plans are prohibited from investing. Related Bill: SB 491.

Defeated Legislation

Legislation
SB 491
Status
Defeated
Defeated On
May 2019
Type(s)
Anti-boycott, State Contracts, State Investments
Full Text
Read SB 491 

SB 491 amends Texas’ 2017 anti-boycott law (HB 89) to exclude sole proprietors, companies with fewer than 10 employees, and contracts worth less than $100,000 from the prohibition on state contracts with companies that boycott Israel or persons or entities doing business in Israel or territories it occupies. A federal court blocked enforcement of HB 89 in April 2019, finding that the law would likely violate the First Amendment. These amendments, which are designed to remove the plaintiffs challenging the law from its reach, may reduce the number of individuals affected by the law, but fail to resolve the underlying constitutional issues. Related Bill: HB 793 (passed).

Defeated Legislation

Legislation
SB 29
Status
Defeated
Defeated On
May 2017
Type(s)
Anti-boycott, State Contracts, State Investments
Full Text
Read SB 29 

This anti-boycott bill prohibits state contracts with and state investment in companies, including sole proprietorships, that boycott Israel or persons or entities doing business in Israel or territories occupied by Israel. The bill requires contractors to sign a written certification that they do not and will not engage in boycotts of Israel. The bill calls for the creation of a blacklist of companies that boycott Israel and prohibits public retirement systems from investing in such companies. Related bills: HB 89 (passed), SB 134.

Defeated Legislation

Legislation
SB 134
Status
Defeated
Defeated On
May 2017
Type(s)
Anti-boycott, State Contracts, State Investments
Full Text
Read SB 134 

This anti-boycott bill prohibits state contracts with and state investment in companies, including sole proprietorships, that boycott Israel or persons or entities doing business in Israel or territories occupied by Israel. The bill requires contractors to sign a written certification that they do not and will not engage in boycotts of Israel. The bill calls for the creation of a blacklist of companies that boycott Israel and prohibits public retirement systems from investing in such companies. Related bills: HB 89 (passed), SB 29.

Legislation
HB 89
Status
Struck Down by Court
Struck Down On
April 2019
Type(s)
Anti-boycott, State Contracts, State Investments
Full Text
Read HB 89 

This anti-boycott bill prohibits state contracts with and state investment in companies, including sole proprietorships, that boycott Israel or persons or entities doing business in Israel or territories occupied by Israel. The bill requires contractors to sign a written certification that they do not and will not engage in boycotts of Israel. The bill calls for the creation of a blacklist of companies that boycott Israel and prohibits public retirement systems from investing in such companies. 

A federal court blocked enforcement of the law in April 2019, finding the plaintiffs were likely to succeed in showing that the law violates their First Amendment rights and that the state’s continued enforcement of it would cause them irreparable harm. Texas amended the law (HB 793) so it no longer applied to individuals like the plaintiffs. The amendments altered the prohibitions related to state contracts, leaving in place those related to state investments. Related bills: SB 29, SB 134.

Resolutions

Defeated Legislation

Legislation
HCR 112
Status
Defeated
Defeated On
May 2017
Full Text
Read HCR 112 

This non-binding resolution condemns boycott, divestment, and sanctions efforts, and academic boycotts, in particular. Claiming that BDS campaigns have resulted in threats against Jewish students, the resolution falsely links boycotts for Palestinian rights to rising antisemitism. The resolution reaffirms the legislature’s support for Israel and “that the Jewish people be recognized as indigenous to the land of Israel and that they be supported in their right to engage in lawful acts of self-defense.”

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