These US States May Ban Chinese, Other Country’s Citizens From Buying Land
The Texas proposal also would bar Russians, Iranians and North Koreans from owning real estate. But the principal target appears to be Chinese nationals.
The US state of Texas is considering barring Chinese citizens from buying property on national security grounds — and as tensions with Beijing rise other states may follow suit. The Texas proposal also would bar Russians, Iranians and North Koreans from owning real estate. But the principal target appears to be Chinese nationals.
The draft proposal was offered up in November 2022 by Republican Lois Kolkhorst, a state senator in Texas in the southern US.
“One of the top concerns for many Texans is national security and the growing ownership of Texas land by certain adversarial foreign entities,” Kolkhorst has said.
Governor Greg Abbott, a fellow Republican and fierce advocate of more severe immigration policies, says he will sign and enact the proposal if it passes the state senate.
Foreign ownership of farmland and other real estate, particularly by Chinese citizens or businesses, is becoming a hot issue in the United States, and not only in Texas. Florida, Arkansas, South Dakota and eight other states are considering legislation to restrict foreign ownership.
Texas, though, may be a bellwether. With 28.8 million citizens, Texas is the second most populous state. Of its residents, 1.4 million define their ethnicity as Asian, and 223,500 say they are of Chinese origin, US census data shows.
Houston, the fourth largest US city, has 156,000 residents who identify as Asian.
They include US citizens with Asian heritage but also Chinese permanent residents — or green card holders — who are not naturalized citizens.
“All these people are paying taxes here,” said Ling Luo, a first-generation Chinese immigrant who is director of the Asian Americans Leadership Council. “(They) are paying a tremendous contribution to the universities, to education.”
Even though the proposal also targets other nationalities, Luo said the Chinese are most numerous.
Others say ethnic Chinese are simply the target of discrimination du jour.
“Our country goes through these waves of finding immigrant groups… to demonize,” said Gene Wu, a member of the Texas House of Representatives.
He noted that “China is Texas’s second largest trading partner. And China is the third largest purchaser of Texas goods.”
A proposal like the one on the table, he said, “could jeopardize all of those contracts.”
A rise in tensions
Increased diplomatic tensions after the US shot down an alleged Chinese surveillance balloon over the weekend may boost efforts to restrict foreign real estate ownership, Wu said.
“There’s some people who are using the rise in tensions as an excuse to come after community members,” said Wu, adding, “there is a difference between people with Chinese heritage and the government of China.”
Kolkhorst, who proposed the Texas legislation, said the spark behind the bill was the purchase of 130,000 acres (52,600 hectares) by a retired Chinese army officer linked to the Communist Party.
The land is near Laughlin Air Force Base east of Del Rio, a city near the border with Mexico.
Sun Guangxin, the real estate tycoon who was the buyer, said he wanted to build a wind and solar farm, but Texas in 2021 blocked the project.
The state legislature, citing national security concerns, passed a law that barred any project linked to the governments of China or the other three nations from connecting to the grid.
Wu said that law “made sense,” but the new proposal affects a broad class of people and the ends don’t justify the means.
According to the National Association of Realtors, in the 12 months until March 2022, Chinese investment represented six percent of foreign residential purchases in the United States.
‘Not written on your face’
“Our family didn’t just come from China, we fled from China,” Wu said. “My family went through the Cultural Revolution and all that stuff,” he added, referring to the 1966-1976 period of upheaval as communist leader Mao Zedong sought to purge all rivals.
Senator Kolkhorst said that her proposed bans would not affect people with US citizenship or permanent resident status nor anyone “fleeing the tyranny” in their homelands.
For Luo, though, such statements are not convincing — even to US citizens like herself.
“Who knows if you’re a citizen or you aren’t a citizen? It’s not written on your face. Your Chinese face is what makes people come and abuse us, hate us, to beat us up,” she said.
Meet the cheapest US states to buy a house
A new study analyzing Zillow data has found that the monthly median sale price of a house last year was more than $500,000 in Utah, California and Colorado — and more than a staggering $800,000 in Hawaii.
The study, conducted by Studio City realtors, found that Hawaii clocked in as the most expensive state in the U.S. for homebuyers. On the island, the average home price was $805,775 — hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the cheapest state on the list.
Studio City realtor Tony Mariotti noted that market turbulence contributed to a “significant increase” in house prices across the U.S.
Home prices went up nationwide in February after months of declines amid low inventory and a small uptick in demand — and experts have said they expect affordability will continue to be a problem for prospective homebuyers in the months ahead.
Here are the priciest and cheapest U.S. states to buy a home:
The most expensive states to buy a home
Eight states and Washington, D.C., saw a monthly median sale price of a house last year of $400,000 or higher, with Oregon sitting at that exact figure.
Washington state, Nevada, Montana and Washington, D.C., came in between $402,900 and $487,500.
California, Colorado and Hawaii were the top three most expensive, at $537,000, $537,125 and $805,775 in monthly median sale prices last year, respectively.
Costs differed in different areas within states: for example, the median monthly sale price of a house last year in California’s cheapest city of Red Bluff was $320,000 — while the ticket in its most expensive city of San Jose was $1,370,000.
Don’t just hug a tree this Arbor Day — plant one, too
Nearly five years ago, Hurricane Michael became the first Category 5 storm to hit the United States in 25 years. It left a trail of destruction in its wake, and my community of Panama City — located in the Florida Panhandle — was hit especially hard. Since then, working together as neighbors and citizens, we’ve made significant progress in key recovery areas, including rebuilding key and vital infrastructure, enhancing quality of life, developing our downtown, and attracting new businesses across a mix of industries. However, one of our most important recovery efforts lies within our tree canopy restoration — an often overlooked but vital area of disaster recovery and prevention.
When Hurricane Michael uprooted nearly 80 percent of Panama City’s trees — approximately a million trees, generating 5.7 million cubic yards of debris within the city — it created serious challenges. Not only did we lose the beautiful canopy from 100-year-old oak trees, but the vital function of the trees was lost, the first of which was the absorption of groundwater. The loss of so many trees significantly increased the risk of flooding in our community,
where we now experience flooding in areas that haven’t typically flooded in the 114-year history of the city. The second function lost from the lack of trees is shade.
Trees serve to mitigate the urban heat island effect, where an entire city is warmed by concrete being heated by the sun. These increased temperatures not only result in uncomfortably hot weather but can also lead to other extreme weather events like wildfires. Since the storm, Panama City has experienced increased flooding whenever thunderstorms roll through, in addition to wildfires that consumed over 40,000 acres last year – both due in part to the damaged tree canopy and loss of trees.
The problems facing VA modernization are bigger than its software systems
The list of criticisms of the new Veterans Affairs (VA) electronic health record system, Oracle Cerner, is long.
Thousands of doctors’ orders went missing, putting patient safety at risk. Its downtime has been high compared to the old system, though it has improved. The new system is expensive: $16 billion so far, up from the $10 billion originally estimated. And, so far, it has been rolled out at just five of the VA’s 171 sites.
One of the problems is that the old record system, VistA, has its own lengthy list of reasons why it cannot continue to serve as the main software for VA hospitals. VistA was coded in Mumps, a computer language so old that few programmers are available to work on it. This old system is also not cloud-based, and cloud-based systems are now standard. And each VA location has customized VistA for its own particular needs, which means that each system is, in its way, unique, and interoperability is not-at-all simple.
Even those who still love VistA concede that sticking with the old software is not a long-term solution. And even in the short-term, VistA is expensive to maintain, costing $900 million for this purpose just last year. So VA has been sinking money into two different electronic health record systems, each one broken in its own way.
As of last Friday, VA has called for a complete reset of the modernization program and a halt to any further Oracle Cerner rollouts.
How did this implementation go so wrong? And what should be done now?
Electronic health record (EHR) implementations often take a long time and go over budget. And while the VA implementation of its new EHR software has been challenging for a number of reasons, all of these reasons could be, and indeed were, anticipated.
VA is unique in its geographical breadth — most EHR rollouts occur in a single health care system that is physically situated in one state, not across 50. Most EHRs, including the new Oracle Cerner system, are designed around billing, which is not a focus for providers in VA hospitals. The VA patient population is also different than the general public, with different frequencies of disease (more PTSD and missing limbs; less pregnancy and pediatric care), and it requires management of referrals and care outside the VA system.
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