A bill that seeks to bar the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its members from owning any real estate in Arizona is gaining momentum in the state’s legislature.
Senate Bill 1342
, introduced by State Sen. Wendy Rogers (R-Flagstaff), was passed by fellow Republicans on a party-line (5-3) vote in the Commerce Committee on Wednesday.
Rogers said the bill was inspired by a similar legislation in Texas
that prevents businesses from certain countries — namely China, Russia, Iran and North Korea — from accessing the state’s electrical grid.
That legislation, introduced by U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX 21st District)
, came in response to a Chinese energy company that purchased over 130,000 acres of land near Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio and has reportedly been “attempting to build a wind farm to access the U.S. power grid.”
Unlike the Texas bill, however, SB 1342 focuses solely on the CCP, though it does not provide specifics on how “members” are supposed to be identified.
According to Chinese state-run media Xinhua
, the CCP reported having over 95 million members on June 5, 2021, but it was not immediately clear how the population was distributed.
Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-Scottsdale) suggested that there needs to be a distinction between the Chinese government and CCP membership, but others believe they all fall under one umbrella.
“This is a formal initiation requirement for life that, if you break the rules, not only is your life at risk, your family is,” said Sen. David Livingston (R-Peoria), who compared being a CCP member to being in “active military duty,” according to Arizona Mirror
Data from the Department of Agriculture shows that by early 2020, Chinese interests controlled about 192,000 acres of farmland in the country amounting to an approximate value of $1.9 million, Politico
That figure is still smaller than the farmlands owned by entities from Canada, the Netherlands and Italy, which all measure millions of acres, according to farm and rural policy source Agri-Pulse
Aside from the lack of clarity on CCP “membership,” Rogers’ bill does not mention local communists.
In voter registration forms, at least 30 people in Arizona listed their affiliation as “Communist,” another dozen as “Communist Party USA” and six as “Communist Party,” according to Capitol Media Services
While Ugenti-Rita ultimately voted yes to Rogers’ legislation, she said she struggles because “I don’t like just thoughts in a bill that are not mature enough.”
Sen. Sonny Borrelli (R-Lake Havasu City) also said the bill needs development before it heads to the Senate body.