A Florida bill banning Chinese citizens from owning land in the state has passed the Florida Legislature and will head to Gov. Ron Desantis to be signed into law.
Bill SB 264, titled “SB 264: Interests of Foreign Countries,” prohibits Chinese citizens from “purchasing or acquiring real property” in Florida or having more than a small “indirect interest in such real property.”
The priority bill had bipartisan support from the state’s legislators, who cited national security concerns for its passage. The bill passed the House with a 95-17 vote and the Senate with a 31-8 vote.
A previous version of bill SB 264, which was filed in March and then amended by the House, restricted citizens from “foreign adversaries” from purchasing land. Foreign adversaries were defined as China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and Syria.
One part of the amendment included an exception for Chinese visa holders, who are permitted to be in ownership of one home as long as they are registered with a state agency.
DeSantis has expressed opposition to Chinese purchases of state land.
Last year, he described residential real estate ownership by Chinese entities as a “huge problem
” in an appearance on Fox News.
At an unrelated press conference in January, DeSantis said, “If you look at the Chinese Communist Party, they’ve been very active throughout the Western Hemisphere in gobbling up land. That is not in the best interests of Florida to have the Chinese Communist Party owning farmland, owning land close to military bases.”
However, the bill has been met with opposition, with Chinese Americans gathering outside the Florida Capital to chant “Florida is our home” in protest of the bill on Saturday.
And during a committee last month, over 100 people spoke out against the bill, expressing concern that the legislation would lead to racial profiling and discrimination. If passed, the bill would see realtors be subject to “civil or criminal liability” if they have “actual knowledge” of a transaction’s illegality.
Opponents have also argued that the bill violates the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which “protects people from discrimination when they are renting or buying a home” or “engaging in other housing-related activities.” The act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex and more.
Florida is not the first state to pass a bill that bars Chinese ownership of land.