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Is the New York State anti-boycott bill dead?

by Ron Kampeas, JTA

February 4, 2014 | 5:38 pm

Sen. Jeff Klein (NY-D

Sen. Jeff Klein (NY-D

We’ve reported that the New York State Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill intended to prohibit colleges from using any state money to fund groups that boycott Israeli universities.

Companion legislation was under consideration in the State Assembly and seemed assured of passage, given that it had the backing of the speaker, Sheldon Silver. Sponsors in both chambers said the legislation was occasioned by the Israel boycott adopted in December by the American Studies Association.

In effect, the legislation would prohibit colleges from using state funds to pay for membership fees in the ASA or for faculty travel to ASA conferences (though the bill doesn’t specify Israel by name and would seem to apply to any boycotts of universities in other countries where universities are chartered by the New York State Board of Regents. Thanks to Mondeoweiss’s Alex Kane for the link.)

The Albany Times Union now reports — in a parenthetical update to an early blogpost — that an Assembly committee pulled it from consideration.

Ryan Karben, a former Assemblyman, says that this is rare for any bill backed by the speaker, and that its shelving by the committee means that the bill is “disappeared.”

The bill had influential opponents, according to the Times Union, including the New York State United Teachers union, which sees the bill as an affront to free speech.

For the same reason, the New York Times also is opposed to the bill.

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