In May, GOP delegates approved eight legislative priorities for the upcoming legislative session.

The GOP’s seventh priority states: Banning the sale of real property in Texas, and discontinuing taxpayer funding and incentives, to governments, entities, and proxies of China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, and to individuals from these nations who are not legal permanent residents or citizens of the United States.

According to the Texas Farm Bureau, “USDA released a report in December detailing foreign holdings of U.S. agricultural land, noting that foreign ownership increased to 5.3 million acres in Texas.”

Texas Farm Bureau stated, “Foreign ownership and investment in U.S. agricultural land—which includes farmland, pastures, and forestland—has grown almost 50% since 2017, according to USDA. This increase is mostly due to foreign-owned wind companies obtaining long-term leases for wind turbines.”

Texas leads the nation in the amount of foreign-owned agricultural land.

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

In the 2023 session, there were several measures filed to address this issue:

Senate Bill 147 by State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) intended 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, such as countries like China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia. It was designed to cover weak areas found in 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, SB 147 was never given a hearing in the Texas House.

House Bill 1075 by State Rep. Cody Harris (R–Palestine) would have banned foreign governments and companies from owning agricultural land in Texas.

House Bill 2788 by State Rep. Jacey Jetton (R–Richmond) would have banned foreign governments, companies, and officials in the foreign country’s government or military from purchasing real estate in Texas. The governor would determine which countries are considered threats with the assistance of the Department of Public Safety and the Homeland Security Council and create a list of critical infrastructure sites in the state.

House Bill 4006 by State Rep. David Spiller (R–Jacksboro) would have banned governments—and their government-owned companies—identified by the U.S. National Intelligence Community as hostile threats from purchasing land in Texas. The U.S. Director of National Intelligence promulgates the list, which includes Iran, Russia, North Korea, and China.

Unfortunately, all of the measures were left pending in committee.

Currently, Texas law guarantees that “an alien has the same real and personal property rights as a United States citizen.” Thus, anyone can buy land in Texas.

Holly Tkach

Holly Tkach is a summer fellow at Texas Scorecard. She is a rising senior at Baylor University majoring in Political Science and Communication.