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Rick Scott to sign Israel anti-boycott bill in Boca Raton

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Gov. Rick Scott will hold a formal bill-signing ceremony in Boca Raton on Wednesday afternoon to laud a bill that will keep the state of Florida from doing business with firms who boycott Israel.

Scott will meet with Jewish and pro-Israel Floridian stakeholders at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, where he will signal his public approval of SB 86, which prohibits state pension money and other state funds from flowing to companies who economically protest Israel.

Specifically, the bill mandates the State Board of Administration to determine whether a company looking to transact with the state boycotts Israel. If they do, the firm “is ineligible to, and may not, bid on, submit a proposal for, or enter into or renew a contract with an agency or local governmental entity for goods or services of $1 million or more.”

Senate President-designate Joe Negron sponsored the bill, though ultimately the full Senate unanimously co-sponsored it in a gesture of ardent support.

Many companies around the world have joined the so-called Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement in protest of Israel’s policies towards its Palestinian neighbors, which they characterize as a military occupation. Opponents of Israel have likened Israeli policies towards Palestine to South Africa under apartheid.

Critics of the movement, on the other hand, have accused participants of being “antisemitic and anti-American,” as one supporter said when the bill was moving through committee in October 2015.

To those participating in the movement, Negron said last year, “That’s your choice. And unlike some countries where they do this, we allow people to have choice and freedom of expression. But our government is going to choose not to do business with your company or invest in your company.”

Scott technically gave the legislation final approval back on March 10. The anti-sanctions language is already is already on the books since the bill provides it was to be enacted “upon becoming a law.”

The SBA and other state agencies must implement the new policy beginning October 16.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at

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