State senators gave initial approval to Senate Bill (SB) 147 on April 25, according to the Texarkana Gazette. The proposal introduced by Republican State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst was approved on party lines. SB 147 needs one more vote in the senate before it heads to the Texas House of Representatives for consideration.
If it becomes law, SB 147 would ban citizens from China, Iran, North Korea and Russia from buying large swaths of land in Texas. The bill used a threat assessment report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as a basis for banning the four nations. Gov. Greg Abbott has said he would sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.
"SB 147 strikes the balance of [upholding] national security – and the state is vital to our national security – while also allowing those that are seeking freedom, seeking asylum [and] fleeing those authoritarian regimes to come here, live their lives and live the American dream," Kolkhorst said.
Republican State Sen. Mayes Middleton slammed the four nations targeted by SB 147, dubbing them "enemies of the U.S. and enemies of Texas." He said during his speech on the State Senate floor: "They have realized that frankly, at the end of the day, they can be more successful at hurting this country and hurting this great state through economic means than through the battlefield."
SB 147 built on a law adopted in 2021 that banned companies based in the four adversary nations from owning critical infrastructure in Texas. It emerged following reports of a Chinese firm purchasing land near Laughlin Air Force Base in Val Verde County. (Related: National security threat: Grand Forks City Council blocks Chinese-owned corn mill near air base.)
While the initial version of the bill provided exceptions to dual citizens, Kolkhorst later expanded it to include legal permanent residents and homesteads purchased by citizens of the four countries.
"To be clear, people fleeing adversarial nations can purchase shopping centers, restaurants, car washes, and other businesses to pursue the American dream," the state senator clarified. "Additionally, the bill preserves the homestead exemption – so those same folks fleeing totalitarian regimes can purchase a rural residence of up to 20 acres of agricultural land."
Despite Kolkhorst trying to allay fears about her proposal, Democratic State Sen. John Whitmire said the damage to Asian Americans in Texas was already done. He told Kolkhorst: "You've already impacted them. They're scared to death of you. They're scared to death of this legislation."
Meanwhile, several Chinese Americans who voiced opposition to the bill said they intend to continue fighting against the legislation.
"We're going to continue calling members of the House of Representatives to express our concerns because this is unconstitutional. This is discrimination against Chinese Americans," said Jian Xie, a member of multiple organizations in North Texas with close ties to the Asian and Chinese American communities.
Jerry Pi, a resident of Allen in Collin County, said he has lost hope for the bill to be stopped in the Texas Legislature. "My personal plan is that I'll try to contribute to fund organizations who challenge this law in court," he shared.
Tom Tong, a Dallas-based attorney, said he wasn't surprised that SB 147 passed in the Texas Senate. "I would hope all the Asian Texans who are eligible to vote know what's going on right now and that lawmakers do make laws that closely impact our daily lives," he remarked.
Aside from the allegations of discrimination, some legal experts have raised questions about the bill's constitutionality. They argue that the SB 147 appears to contravene state and federal bans on discrimination based on nationality.
Still, Kolkhorst believes her proposal would survive a court challenge. She is not alone in proposing bills to counter attempts by enemy nations to purchase U.S. farmland. State lawmakers in North Carolina and Florida have also considered similar bills that protect national security from hostile nations.
Listen to Sen. John Thune (R-SD) as he warns about China's purchase of U.S. farmland in strategic locations.
This video is from the Chinese taking down EVIL CCP channel on Brighteon.com.