Boston, MA (January 25, 2017) – Today, An Act Prohibiting Discrimination in State Contracts was filed by sponsors Senator Cynthia Creem (D-Newton) and Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) and Representative Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham) and Steven Howitt (R-Seekonk) in a bipartisan effort to prohibit discrimination in state contracts system of Massachusetts.
“This bill harnesses the economic influence of our state to strengthen existing anti-discrimination laws and ensure that the state does not unwittingly use tax payer funds to subsidize discriminatory conduct,” said JCRC Director of Government Affairs Aaron Agulnek. “It would also require anyone applying for a state contract to certify that they are in compliance with Massachusetts laws prohibiting discrimination and that they will not discriminate against another in the business context based on the targeted individual’s race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, gender identity or sexual orientation.”
“After meeting with parties on all sides of this issue, I am filing this bill which simply prevents the state from contracting with parties who fail to affirm that they will abide by the state’s anti-discrimination laws – including those that prevent discrimination based on national origin” said Senator Cynthia Creem (D. Newton). “I believe this bipartisan legislation protects individual rights, while also sending a strong message that Massachusetts will not do business with those engaging in discrimination.”
“I am proud to stand with my colleagues in support of this legislation that prevents discrimination in state contracts,” said Representative Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham). “This important and meaningful legislation will move our economy forward while preventing further discrimination based on divisive labels that have no bearing on business in the Commonwealth.”
“This is a proud moment where the legislature can stand together in support of Israel” said Representative Steven Howitt. “This bill clarifies to businesses that either support BDS or who boycott Israeli-owned businesses and products that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will not engage in commerce with them. I look forward to its quick passage.”
This consensus bill has garnered wide support representing a broad consensus of Jewish communal organizations.
Under this law, BDS boycotts targeting Israeli business owners based solely on national origin would be considered discrimination. Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) Executive Director, Andrea Levin said: "We strongly commend this important bipartisan bill that underscores Massachusetts will act against discriminatory treatment of Israel. We're proud that our state joins others in this vital national effort." The proposed legislation supports the Commonwealth’s historic commitment to fighting discrimination and ensures that those engaging in discriminatory conduct will not reap the benefit of a state contract.
“J Street welcomes legislation under consideration by the Massachusetts state legislature designed to prohibit the state government from contracting with businesses that engage in discriminatory boycotts on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, gender identity or sexual orientation” said J Street New England Regional Director, Shaina Wasserman. “We believe that it is important to stand up against discrimination in all its forms, including, of course, anti-Semitism and discrimination against Israelis.
Anti-Defamation League Regional Director, Robert O. Trestan, added:
“This legislation recognizes and rejects the insidious and destructive nature of BDS campaigns. We hope this legislative initiative will serve as an important catalyst that eliminates discrimination when it comes to doing business with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”
The legislation recognizes the strength of the Massachusetts-Israel economic partnership and assures both Israeli and Massachusetts businesses owners, entrepreneurs and investors that the Commonwealth is truly open for businesses.