House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, wants to ban state and local governments in Missouri from doing business with companies who boycott Israel. The only bill Richardson is offering this session would follow 24 other states who have taken this pro-Israel business stance.
“I think it’s been the longstanding public policy in the United States, and certainly here in the State of Missouri, that the State of Israel legitimately exists. It’s existed legitimately and been internationally recognized for more than 70 years and those efforts to seek to destroy it are something that we shouldn’t be supporting,” says Richardson. “Missouri enjoys tremendous economic benefits from that relationship.”
Rep. Peter Merideth, D-St. Louis, says he’s worried about the state setting a precedent to take a position against those who participate in business protests.
“There was talk of some conservative folks across the country wanting to boycott the NFL because of some protests in the NFL and there were businesses saying we’re not going to advertise on NFL games now. So if that had spread and grown and all of a sudden business across our state are going, ‘We’re going to protest the NFL by boycotting advertisements on the NFL,’ and we said, ‘Well you know what, we benefit economically from the NFL.’ Are we then entitled to, as a state, say as our policy because we economically benefit from the NFL we can tell those businesses they’re not allowed to do business with our state,” asks Merideth.
Another argument being made is that the measure violates the First Amendment and would end up in court like a nearly identical one has in Kansas.
By Brad Tregnago of Missourinet affiliate KSSZ in Columbia