By Corinne Murdock |
A bill to prevent the state and public utilities from contracting with companies who rely on forced Uyghur labor, HB2488, passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee 8-1 on Wednesday. The only senator to vote against the bill was State Senator Tyler Pace (R-Mesa). The Uyghurs are a Muslim ethnic group that the Chinese government has detained in “reeducation camps” since 2017. The legislation passed out of the House nearly a month ago.
HB2488 prohibits the state and any of its political subdivisions, agencies, boards, commissions, or departments from entering contracts without explicit confirmation that the company doesn’t and won’t rely on forced labor from Uyghurs in China. The prohibition also extends to goods and services produced by those Uyghurs, as well as any Uyghur labor used by a company’s contractors, subcontractors, or suppliers.
The bill sponsor, State Representative Justin Wilmeth (R-Phoenix) explained in a press release that this was a necessary measure to stand against human rights violations.
“As a student of history, I know what happens when good people remain silent,” stated Wilmeth. “The Chinese Communist Party keeping millions of people locked in internment camps, which harkens back to the darkest chapters of the 20th century. HB 2488 sends a strong message that the State of Arizona won’t do business with anyone that turns a blind eye to this horrible human rights abuse.”
In the House, the bill passed unanimously. The only other votes against the bill that occurred came from Minority Whip Domingo Degrazia (D-Tucson) and State Representative Diego Espinoza (D-Tolleson) in the Rules Committee. Degrazia ultimately voted for the bill during the final house floor vote, while Espinoza didn’t vote at all.