In Legislative Upset, Win Scored in Missouri for the Right to Boycott in Support of Palestinian Rights

(Jefferson City, MO, 5/20/2019)—Similar to the previous year, a five-month grassroots campaign led by AMP-Missouri, in addition to other human rights groups and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Missouri, celebrated a win on Friday, May 17, 2019, when the Missouri legislature failed to pass legislation that would prohibit any company or non-profit group with at least 10 employees from receiving a state contract of $100,000 or more unless that entity would verify they were not and would not engage in a boycott of Israel or companies doing business in Israel.

The legislation was widely predicted to pass, enjoying widespread support by right-wing Missouri legislators with House Bill 1006 sponsored by Representative of Sikeston, Holly Rehder; and Senate Bill 308, sponsored by Senator Bob Onder of St. Charles. (Two other bills were filed in the house as well, both bills being sponsored by Representative Hicks of St. Charles, MO, HB 825 & HB 1011.  

In a significant political upset with not a single Democrat in the House voting in favor of the bill, Reps. Peter Merideth, Steven Roberts, Greg Razer, Tony Lovasco, and others spoke strongly against the legislation, decrying Israel’s violence against Palestinians. Though HB 1006 passed through the overwhelmingly conservative House, it was never brought back to the Senate floor for debate, as Republican Sen.Cindy O’Laughlin was at the ready to mount a filibuster with the likelihood of being joined by committed Democratic colleagues.

Citizens from across Missouri, representing CAIR Missouri, The American Muslims for Palestine, Mid-Missourians for Justice in Palestine, Progressive Jews of St. Louis, and others in the Missouri Right to Boycott Coalition lobbied lawmakers for months and testified against the bills during committee hearings.
Meanwhile, groups including Christians United for Israel (CUFI) as well as St. Louis Friends of Israel joined right-wing legislators in advocating for the bills, sparking criticism from progressive Jewish Missourians.   

This year there was a significant difference in how politicians approached the legislation as there was a lot of time spent both inside the House and Senate during the session as well as outside of session (volunteering on campaigns as well as attending meetings/events where politicians are) where I had the opportunity to educate our legislators more about the cause. I hosted a Breaking the Silence event that I got a good number of Democratic representatives to attend. Because of all this, for the first time in history, not a single Democrat in Missouri voted in favor of the legislation, and for the second time in history, not only did the Israeli lobby have a fight up against them but they lost.