Kansas Democrat Governor Vetoes Bill Restricting Foreign Ownership Of Land Near Military Bases

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by Tyler Durden
Sunday, May 12, 2024 - 11:30 PM

Authored by Aldgra Fredly via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a bill on Friday that aimed to prevent companies of China and other “foreign adversaries” from acquiring real property near military installations in the state.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly gives her inaugural address for her second four-year term on the south steps of the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan., on Jan. 9, 2023. (John Hanna/AP Photo)

Senate Bill 172 aims to block individuals or companies from “countries of concern” from owning any interest in land located within a 100-mile radius of a military installation in Kansas.

Under the bill, any foreign principal that owns or acquires any interest in real property in Kansas would be required to file registration with the attorney general and divest of the property.

The Democratic governor has vetoed the proposed legislation, saying that the bill contains provisions that are “overly broad” and “not narrowly tailored” to protect the state from foreign adversaries.

“While I agree that it is important for our state to implement stronger protections against foreign adversaries, this legislation contains multiple provisions that are likely unconstitutional and cause unintended consequences,” Ms. Kelly said in a statement.

Additionally, the retroactive nature of this legislation raises further serious constitutional concerns,” she added.

Ms. Kelly said the legislature should consider proposals that protect Kansas from “bad actors” without affecting the state’s legitimate business relationships with potential trading partners and small businesses.

“I am not willing to sign a bill that has the potential to hurt the state’s future prosperity and economic development,” the governor stated.

According to a report by Kansas State University, foreign investors from China own a single acre of privately held agricultural land in the state. China is among the countries listed as U.S. foreign adversaries.

As of 2021, China ranked as the third-largest export market for Kansas, trailing behind Mexico and Canada, according to a Kansas Export Statistics Executive Summary.

Republicans Voice Disappointment

Kansas Republicans have criticized Ms. Kelly’s decision to veto the bill. House Speaker Dan Hawkins, Majority Leader Chris Croft, and Speaker Pro Tempore Blake Carpenter issued a joint statement saying that the governor is putting military installations in Kansas at risk.

Foreign adversaries, such as China, have made their intentions toward the U.S. and our democracy abundantly clear,” Mr. Hawkins said in the statement.

“It’s shameful that our governor has chosen not to take those threats seriously, leaving Kansas’ critical infrastructure and military installments exposed,” he added.

Mr. Croft described the governor’s veto as “beyond disappointing,” saying that it leaves the state’s military bases and other critical infrastructure “wide open for adversarial foreign governments.”

“The assets of this state are too important for us to sit on our hands and wait until it’s too late,” he stated. “This bill was carefully designed with input from everyone who wanted a say on how we should move forward.”

Mr. Carpenter said he remains committed to protecting the military installations in Kansas and “ensuring that the Chinese Communist Party and other foreign adversaries do not compromise Kansas’s safety.”

Similar Legislation in Other States

Similar legislation has been introduced in several states, including Georgia, Iowa, Utah, and Oklahoma. The South Carolina Senate passed a bill in March that will partly ban companies or citizens of foreign adversaries from acquiring real property in the state.

Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition aimed at ending discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, has condemned the measure and said it could stoke “xenophobia” among Asian American communities.

These land ban laws label our communities as untrustworthy, blame them for the actions of another country’s government, and stoke the flames of racism, xenophobia, and hate,” Cynthia Choi, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, said in a statement after Georgia’s passage of the bill.

As of December 2021, China accounted for 383,935 acres of the 40 million acres of U.S. agricultural land owned by foreign investors, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

While the acreage under Chinese ownership is slightly less than 1 percent of all foreign-held agricultural land, it represents a nearly 30-fold leap from 13,720 acres in 2010, according to a U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission report.

Caden Pearson contributed to this report.