As citizens anticipate another special legislative session in the coming months, one of the items that may be subject to the governor’s call is a ban on foreign land ownership.
State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R–Brenham) proposed a law—Senate Bill 147—that would have banned the ownership of Texas’ agricultural land, mineral interests, and timber by citizens, companies, or governmental entities of countries designated by the federal government as threats to U.S. national security.
SB 147 didn’t name specific countries, but the measure was designed to apply to all countries listed in the previous three Annual Threat Assessments of the U.S. Intelligence Community. Currently, the measure would apply to: China, North Korea, Iran, and Russia.
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 intended to augment these weak spots.
Meanwhile, concerns over Chinese interference in Texas remain.
Texans for Strong Borders Executive Director Cary Cheshire recently told Texas Scorecard that Abbott should add “prohibiting Chinese nationals from buying up Texas land” to the upcoming special session call.
Gov. Abbott did not respond to Texas Scorecard‘s request for comment before publication.