During Texas’ 88th regular legislative session, legislation was filed in the Texas Senate to ban ownership of Texas’ agricultural land, mineral interests, and timber from citizens, companies, or governmental entities designated by the federal government as threats to national security. 

State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R–Brenham) filed Senate Bill 147 which would have achieved that aim and applied to countries listed in the previous three Annual Threat Assessments of the U.S. Intelligence Community like China, North Korea, Iran, and Russia. 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Chinese firms and investors have bought 383,935 acres of U.S. land.

In 2022, Texas Scorecard reviewed the widely reported activities of Chinese billionaire Sun Guangxin, whose companies bought hundreds of thousands of acres in Val Verde, Texas in 2015. As a member of the Chinese military, Guangxin has ties to the Chinese Communist Party. His companies planned to start a wind farm on a portion of the land near Laughlin Air Force base.

These acquisitions drew shock and concern from lawmakers and citizens in 2019. It prompted the passage of the Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act in 2021, which was supposed to prohibit foreign companies or citizens from countries like China from purchasing land near critical infrastructure, such as military bases.

However, weak spots in the law soon became apparent. 

SB 147 was designed to strengthen the state law. 

At the beginning of the 88th regular legislative session, Gov. Greg Abbott said he would sign the bill if it reached his desk. However, he stopped short of naming it an emergency item.

Despite public interest in protecting Texas’ land and resources, State Rep. Todd Hunter (R–Corpus Christi), who chairs the House State Affairs Committee, never gave SB 147 a hearing.

Meanwhile, other states across the country are passing legislation to restrict hostile foreign nations from land ownership. For example, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Attorney General Tim Griffin announced that Northrup King Seed, which is owned by China National Chemical Company, will have two years to divest itself of 160 acres of agricultural land under the state’s new law. 

“For far too long, we’ve tolerated dangerous governments infiltrating our country. Arkansas will not tolerate them any longer,” said Sanders. “Today, I announced that Arkansas is becoming the first state in the nation to force a Chinese state-owned company to sell its American farmland.”

Texas State Republican Executive Committeewoman Christin Bentley announced last week that the March Republican Primary ballot will include a ballot proposition on the subject. 

“Banning the sale of Texas land to citizens, governments, and entities from China and other hostile nations will be on the Republican primary ballot as a proposition,” posted Bentley on X. 

Polling has shown that 82 percent of Republican voters in Texas would support a ban on Chinese land purchases in the state.

Sydnie Henry

A born and bred Texan, Sydnie serves as the Managing Editor for Texas Scorecard. She graduated from Patrick Henry College with a B.A. in Government and is utilizing her research and writing skills to spread truth to Texans.