Lawmakers Seek to Curb China Land Purchases

Lawmakers Seek to Curb China Land Purchases

By Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Senate has started fast-tracking a proposal that would bar the sale of agricultural land and property within 20 miles of military bases to interests tied to the Chinese government or other nations on a list of “countries of concern.”

The bill (SB 264), which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, also would prevent Florida government agencies from entering contracts involving access to personal information with entities tied to countries of concern. Also, it would require health-care providers to ensure electronic technology keeps patient information within the continental U.S.

“There are countries that simply don’t stand up for our way of life, our thoughts or ideas, ideals and principles,” bill sponsor Sen. Jay Collins (pictured above), R-Tampa, said. “This bill protects, strategically speaking, our land and to make sure … we aren’t dependent on other countries for agriculture.”

While China is the primary focus of Collins’ proposal, other countries of concern are Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and Syria.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson have pushed for restrictions on farm-land acquisitions by people and entities linked to the Chinese government.

While she voted for the measure, Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, D-Plantation, questioned if the proposal creates a discriminatory situation “for individuals who are here in this country who want to purchase property.”

Collins said the intent is to differentiate between people who have migrated to the U.S. and people still tied to the targeted governments.

“We are not targeting individuals. We are talking about countries specifically and their practices on the international stage,” Collins replied.

States, according to a Senate staff analysis, have “narrow limits” to apply laws exclusively to “alien inhabitants,” but court decisions have determined “each state, in the absence of any treaty provision to the contrary, may deny to aliens the right to own land within its border.”

The bill would take effect July 1. People or entities that own agricultural land before then would not have to give up the property, but they would be prevented from expanding their acreage after that date.

Information is not readily available about how much agricultural land in Florida is owned by entities tied to China.

A Senate staff analysis pointed to a 2021 U.S. Department of Agriculture report in which 6.3 percent of the 21.85 million acres of privately held agricultural land in Florida was owned by foreigners of all nationalities.

“It is unclear how much of that land is owned by China, although the (federal) department does report that (China) owns 96,975 acres in the ‘South Region,’ which includes Florida,” the staff analysis states.

Also under the bill, starting Jan. 1, 2024, entities seeking to bid on government contracts that involve access to individual personal information would have to provide signed affidavits declaring they don’t rule afoul of prohibitions on ties to countries of concern.

Violations could result in civil penalties equal to twice the value of the contracts and five years of being ineligible to seek other contracts.

Collins’ proposal would need to clear the Rules Committee before it could go to the full Senate. A similar bill (HB 1355) has been filed in the House.

11 Responses to "Lawmakers Seek to Curb China Land Purchases"

  1. The Wyoming legislature debated and rejected identical legislation last month. Who is writing bills like this and pushing them in state legislatures across the nation?

  2. @ Snackapalooza = It is not the Ghazvinis, Boulos and the English family you need to worry about doing to the forests, glades, lakes, rivers, wetlands, swamps. It’s what the Local Governments ALLOW them to do to it that you need to worry about.

  3. CURB? STOP IT all together and Seize what they have already purchased. STOP all Foreign Countries and NON US Citizens from buying Property in the US. You want to fix out Mega Debt? Tell China because of all the Millions of Americans killed by their Covid, out Debt to them is now PAID IN FULL.

  4. I’ve been here long enough to watch Tallahassee grow from a large town to the mess it is today and seemingly random growth patterns.

    John Phipps Sr. was content to manage the family estate. John Jr. had a different agenda and is largely responsible for the North/Northeast development on what used to be Phipps’ property. The grandkids were more like John Sr. The granddaughter lived in the loft in the barn (where Ox Bottom Manor is now) to tend to the horses. I don’t know which family member is running things today, but turning Orchard Pond Rd into an expressway where a 1.5 lane dirty road used to be is a harbinger of things to come.

  5. If I have links to China (I like Chinese food) you don’t want me to buy land in Florida but it is OK to buy an ak47 gun (to control folks getting between me and the AYCE buffet)?

  6. China – as well as ANY foreign government or entity – should be prohibited from buying ANY agricultural land ANYWHERE in not only Florida, but the entire United States.. full stop

  7. Think about when (not if) the Phipps family decides to start clearcutting their forests just like the English family is doing. Wont happen you say! That’s what people said about the English family not too long ago.
    Chinese, middle east, Russian oligarchs, or good ol blue blooded American owners and developers, the evil is with our land use codes and the city and county commissioners that refuse to acknowledge just how devastating they are.

  8. And here I thought our biggest local dangers to our environment are
    1) our own lousy tree and land code ordinances that allow clearcutting full forests as long as the developer plants a few twigs; codes that allow the English family to destroy the the major forest on Blairstone;
    2) developers with ties to desert countries that laugh at us all the way to their bank as they clearcut as fast as they can to turn our area into a desert.

    I’m less worried about land within 20 miles of a military base. I’m more worried about what developers like Ghazvinis, Boulos and the English family will do next to destroy the forests, glades, lakes, rivers, wetlands, swamps right here in good ol Leon county.

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