Kansas Governor Vetoes Bill Restricting Foreign Land Ownership Near Military Installations

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) has vetoed Senate Bill 172, which sought to prevent companies from China and other “foreign adversaries” from acquiring real property within a 100-mile radius of military bases in the state. The governor described the bill as “overly broad” and “not narrowly tailored” to protect Kansas from foreign adversaries.

In her statement, Kelly acknowledged the importance of implementing stronger protections against foreign adversaries but expressed concerns about the bill’s potential unconstitutional provisions and unintended consequences. She also raised issues with the legislation’s retroactive nature, which she believed could raise “serious constitutional concerns.” The governor called on the legislature to consider proposals that protect Kansas from “bad actors” without affecting legitimate business relationships and small businesses.

According to a report by Kansas State University, foreign investors from China own only a single acre of privately held agricultural land in the state. As of 2021, China was Kansas’ third-largest export market, behind Mexico and Canada, based on a Kansas Export Statistics Executive Summary.

Kansas Republicans criticized Governor Kelly’s decision, with House Speaker Dan Hawkins accusing her of putting military installations at risk. “Foreign adversaries such as China have made their intentions toward the U.S. and our democracy abundantly clear,” Hawkins said. “It’s shameful that our governor has chosen not to take those threats seriously, leaving Kansas’ critical infrastructure and military installments exposed.”

Several other states, including Georgia, Iowa, Utah, and Oklahoma, have introduced similar legislation. In March, the South Carolina Senate passed a bill that will partly ban companies or citizens of foreign adversaries from acquiring real property in the state. However, Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition aimed at ending discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, has condemned such measures, warning that they could stoke “xenophobia” among Asian American communities.

According to a USDA report, as of December 2021, China accounted for 383,935 acres of the 40 million acres of U.S. agricultural land owned by foreign investors. While this represents less than 1 percent of all foreign-held agricultural land, it marks a nearly 30-fold increase from 13,720 acres in 2010.


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