Texas Bill Part Of Widening Effort To Stop China, Other Nations From Buying U.S. Property
A bill filed in the Texas Legislature would ban people, companies and governments from China, Russia, Iran and North Korea from buying property as the state joins Florida, members of Congress and former President Donald Trump in looking to halt or slow some international sales.
Texas Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, a Republican who represents Brenham, filed Texas Senate Bill 147 in November, about two months before the 88th legislature began Jan. 10. The legislative session runs through May 29.
The bill has not advanced past introduction, but Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted his support for it over the weekend.
“I will sign it,” Abbott said on Twitter. “This follows a law I signed banning those countries from threatening our infrastructure.”
Earlier this month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis shared his intention to sign legislation banning China from buying Florida land following a China-based biological company buying 1,400 acres for a primate facility.
At the national level, Republican Reps. Elise Stefanik of New York and Rick Crawford of Arkansas introduced legislation in December aimed at more closely monitoring foreign ownership of farms, citing concern about Chinese investment in U.S. agriculture.
Just today, Trump said he would outright ban Chinese nationals from buying U.S. farmland or owning telecommunications, energy, technology and medical supplies companies should he retake the White House.
“China is buying up our technology. They’re buying up food supplies. They’re buying up our farmland. They’re buying up our minerals and natural resources. They’re buying up our ports and shipping terminals," Trump said in a statement. "And with the help of corrupt influence-peddlers like the Biden crime family, China is even trying to buy up the pillars of the US energy industry."
Chinese ownership of U.S. farmland jumped from $81M in 2010 to $1.8B in 2020, per the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with some reports suggesting it is doing so near military bases and other critical U.S. infrastructure.
That's of special concern in Texas, which has the largest amount of foreign-held U.S. agricultural land, at more than 4.7 million acres.
Kolkhorst claims Texans have been “alarmed” by the increased acquisition of land by Chinese interests, citing a 2021 purchase of 130,000 acres near Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio by a Chinese-controlled firm. The land was planned to be used for a wind farm.
If passed, the Texas law would apply to governmental entities of any of the four countries, along with companies headquartered there, companies directly or indirectly held or controlled by their governments, and companies owned by the majority of stock or other ownership interests controlled by citizens of the countries.
The law would apply to the purchase or other acquisition of title to real property starting Sept. 1. It would not apply to leasing or property purchased before Sept. 1.
"By comparison, as an American, go try to buy land near a Chinese military base and see how it works out for you,” Kolkhorst said in a news release. “It would never happen there and it shouldn't happen here. Passing this law delivers some basic safeguards to ensure Texans remain in control of Texas land."
Texas was also the third top state for foreign purchases of residential properties from April 2021 to March 2022, behind Florida and California, according to a National Association of Realtors study. Florida brought in 24% of international purchases while Texas got 8%.
China and Canada came in first and second for overall U.S. residential sales volume from overseas at $6.1B and $5.5B, respectively.