January 19, 2020

BDS bill would cost California a small fortune each year, committee says

The California Senate Standing Committee on Appropriations put a price tag on a bill meant to show the legislature’s disapproval of the movement to boycott Israel.

Committee staff determined Assembly Bill 2844, introduced by Santa Monica Assemblyman Richard Bloom, would cost the state’s Attorney General (AG) about $370,000 during the next fiscal year and $625,000 every year after.

The bill requires companies that obtain state contracts of more than $100,000 to certify that any boycott policy they might have against a government recognized by the United States doesn’t result in discrimination under existing federal and state law.

Originally, the bill prevented the state from entering into contract with companies that boycott Israel. But by the time the Assembly approved it on June 2, the original intention had been watered down amid concerns it might violate companies’ First Amendment rights.

The appropriations committee estimated that the bill would impose significant staffing costs on the AG to respond to and investigate complaints.

It also predicted an indeterminate cost to the Department of General Services (DGS), which oversees state contractors. The DGS administers state contracts in the amount of $27.9 billion, according to the committee analysis. That means even a small increase in the cost of administration can result in huge expenses for the state.

The Senate committee will consider the bill again on Aug. 11 and determine whether to forward it to the floor. If the Senate votes in favor of the measure, it will go back to the Assembly for re-approval.