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Texas Matters: Anti-Chinese bill gains steam, GOP baby bonus and bringing 313 back from the dead

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Texas State Capitol
Image by dixoncain from Pixabay
Texas State Capitol

The Texas legislature is considering a bill that would prohibit citizens and foreign entities from China, North Korea, Iran and Russia from buying land in Texas

Governor Greg Abbott said if passed, he would sign it into law.

SB147 was given a hearing Thursday and the bill’s author, Lois Kolkhorst, a Republican, defended it from accusations that it’s based on racial prejudice. She said this was about national security.

"Let me be clear that the citizens of the state of Texas understand the threat of which we are under. So, we're not playing checkers here, we're playing chess. And it's super important. And I reject any notion, any notion that this is a racist bill," she said.

Over one hundred witnesses testified in opposition to the bill. They said it is unnecessary and it would lead to even more targeted hate crimes against people of Asian descent.

"Texas ranks fourth in anti-Asian influence. If this passes, there will be more hate crimes and incidents against Asian grandmas and grandpas, and their blood will be on your hands," said one witness.

"These four countries are accounted for less than 1% of all the foreign owned land in America. And there are existing laws on the book dealing with issues of foreign countries by insensitive properties around, our infrastructures. So how is a Chinese national buying a coffee shop in downtown Austin, a national threat?" testified another witness.

Wei Li, a college professor, told the committee that he has lived in the U.S. for 17 years and will finally be eligible to apply for citizenship later this month.

“I can cook perfect moist brisket. I even understand how to use, 'bless your heart' properly," he said.

"But SB 147 and SB 7011 are a slap on my face. It scoffs at me. Sorry. You're not Texan. People like you will not even deserve to own your own home,” he continued.

In response to the backlash SB147 has received – Kolkhorst has softened the bill somewhat – it now allows the purchase of homes.

The bill is being cheered on by extremist right wing republicans like Hill Country congressman Chip Roy who tweeted that it doesn’t go far enough and all non-U.S. citizens should be prevented from buying Texas property.

Varun Nikore is the Executive Director of the Asian American and Pacific Islanders Victory Alliance.

GOP Baby Bonus

Is Texas ready to provide baby bonuses to encourage married couples to have more children?

A new bill in the Texas House would give a property tax break to large families, but only if the parents are straight property owners who’ve never been divorced.

The bill is raising eyebrows for how targeted the benefit is – and who would be excluded.

Sawyer Hacket, a Democratic strategist, says that’s no accident.

313 back from the dead

During the previous legislative session in 2021, the Texas Senate stunned the state’s business community when it didn’t take up a bill extending a controversial tax break program – known as chapter 313. The program discounted local property taxes to lure big companies to the state. It had been seen at “corporate welfare” that actually did much to benefit the state’s economy.

In the current legislative session, there is an effort to bring 313 back from the dead. And it’s happening in the shadows of the Capitol with few details or answers.

Dick Lavine is the senior Fiscal Analyst at Every Texan

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi