Texas Senate Passes Legislation Banning Hostile Nations From Buying Farmland

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The Texas Senate has approved legislation that bans the purchase of farmland by citizens and entities associated with hostile foreign nations—a bill that its author said will provide “sweeping state and national security protections.”

Republican Texas Sen. Lois Kolkhorst announced the passing of her legislation on Facebook on April 26, following a 19-12 vote in the state Senate earlier in the day, where one Democrat joined 18 Republicans in passing the measure.

“This bill protects Texas farmland, oil and gas, rare earth materials and timber from being owned by foreign entities classified as hostile by the Director of U.S. National Intelligence for three consecutive reports. These nations currently include China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran,” Kolkhorst wrote.

Communist China is the greatest threat to U.S. national security, followed by Russia, Iran, and North Korea, according to the 2022 threat assessment report (pdf) issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). The report called out the Chinese regime as presenting “the broadest, most active, and persistent cyber espionage threat to the U.S. Government and private sector networks.”

SB 147

Kolkhorst introduced the legislation, SB 147, in November last year and was supported by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. The original version of the legislation (pdf) named the four nations, but the final draft (pdf) was amended to allow a country to be added or removed from the list.

The original bill was softened amid criticism from some Democrats and locals. Initially, the bill banned the purchase of property by any individual who is “a citizen of China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia.” However, the final draft specifically points out that the ban does not apply to lawful permanent residents, U.S. citizens, and dual citizens.

The property includes agricultural land, improvements, mines and quarries, mineral deposits, and standing timber, according to the legislation.

The Texas attorney general is also granted the authority to investigate possible violations if “a reasonable suspicion” arises that an entity or individual buying property is associated with one of the countries designated by the ODNI reports, according to the legislation. The state’s top law enforcement officer could then bring cases to district courts for divestment proceedings.

By Frank Fang

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