HOUSTON – Many officials are speaking out against the recently filed Texas Senate Bill 147, which would prohibit citizens and business entities from China, Iran, North Korea and Russia from purchasing land within the state of Texas.
The bill was filed on Nov. 14, 2022, by Republican State Senator Lois Kolkhorst, who released a statement, reading:
“Upon final passage, this legislation will ensure that all US citizens regardless of country of origin can buy and own property in Texas. The time to address adversarial countries acquiring land is before it becomes widespread; not after they already control substantial amounts of Texas. Others have recently placed restrictions on foreign land acquisition such as the Trudeau administration in Canada.”
Sen. Kolkhorst released an updated statement Friday, reading:
“This bill addresses a national security issue and will preserve our cherished private property rights and constitutional freedoms. It does not prohibit foreign business investment in Texas, because companies may still do business by leasing land and buildings. Passing this law delivers the safeguards to ensure that Texas remains Texas. SB 147 builds on SB 2116 which passed the Texas Legislature unanimously in 2021. That bill protected critical infrastructure against contracts or doing business with Russia, North Korea, China and Iran because of national security issues. Mirroring that legislation, SB 147 also names the same four countries and prohibits them from future purchases of Texas lands. The bill will make crystal clear that the prohibitions do not apply to United States citizens and lawful permanent residents. This has always been about common-sense safeguards against Russian, North Korean, Chinese and Iranian authoritarian regimes, not those fleeing the tyranny of those governments who seek freedom in Texas.”
Several local officials are calling the bill racist and xenophobic.
“Injustice for one is injustice for all,” Fort Bend County Judge KP George said. “It’s unfathomable that our state leaders, who are elected to serve in the best interest of all of their constituents, would target groups of people from different nations and prohibit them from their right to own property. It’s blatant discrimination.”
Judge George held a rally at Friday evening on the steps of the Fort Bend County Justice Center, located at 1422 Eugene Heimann Circle in Richmond, Texas. Dozens of people, mainly from Fort Bend County’s Asian population, were in attendance. State Representative Gene Wu, Representative Ron Reynolds, Representative Sulemam Lalani and U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee were also present.
“This blatantly racist and xenophobic piece of legislation is exactly what we expect coming from what is anticipated to be the most conservative session we’ve seen in Texas,” said Harris County Democratic Party Chair, Odus Evbagharu. “The Senator claims she wants Texans to control Texas land while being elected to serve some of the most diverse places in not only the state but the country. Bills like this only seek to further alienate groups of people and promote fear-mongering.”
SB 147 reads:
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT relating to the purchase of or acquisition of title to real property by certain aliens or foreign entities.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Section 5.005, Property Code, is amended to read as follows:
Sec.5.005. ALIENS. Except as provided by Section 5.0051, an [An] alien has the same real and personal property rights as a United States citizen.
SECTION 2. Subchapter A, Chapter 5, Property Code, is amended by adding Section 5.0051 to read as follows:
Sec.5.0051. PURCHASE OF OR ACQUISITION OF TITLE TO REAL PROPERTY BY CERTAIN FOREIGN INDIVIDUALS OR ENTITIES PROHIBITED.
Notwithstanding any other law, the following may not purchase or otherwise acquire title to real property in this state:
(1) a governmental entity of China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia;
(2) a company or other entity that is:
(A) headquartered in China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia;
(B) directly or indirectly held or controlled by the government of China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia; or
(C) owned by or the majority of stock or other ownership interest of which is held or controlled by individuals who are citizens of China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia;
(3) a company or other entity that is owned by or the majority of stock or other ownership interest of which is held or controlled by a company or entity described by Subdivision (2); or
(4) an individual who is a citizen of China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia.
SECTION 3. The changes in law made by this Act apply only to the purchase of or other acquisition of title to real property on or after the effective date of this Act. The purchase of or other acquisition of title to real property before the effective date of this Act is governed by the law in effect immediately before the effective date of this Act, and that law is continued in effect for that purpose.
SECTION 4. This Act takes effect September 1, 2023
“Texas Republicans have proven once again that they can’t improve the lives of Texas families by fixing the power grid, funding public education or expanding Medicaid. Instead, they continue to use minority communities as scapegoats,” Evbagharu said. “SB 147 does not protect Texas land. This piece of legislation targets lawful immigrants with visas and green cards by not allowing them the same economic opportunity many others who have immigrated to this country have been afforded.”
Who is Lois Kolkhorst?
According to the biography on her official website, Senator Lois W. Kolkhorst is a sixth generation Texan, growing up in the small town of Brenham, with ancestral roots dating back to the Texas War of Independence. Married to her high school sweetheart Jim, she is a dedicated mother and small business owner. Born and raised in Senate District 18, she attended public schools before graduating from Texas Christian University, where her professional career began in athletic administration.
Senator Kolkhorst also served as the President and CEO of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce and the Brenham Economic Development Foundation before being elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2001. In 2014, after seven successful terms in the Texas House, she was elected to the Texas Senate in a special election, becoming only the 17th female to serve in the Texas Senate since 1845. Encompassing nearly one million constituents, Senate District 18 spans all or parts of 18 counties and includes a portion of the Texas coastline.