Image Credit: capitol.tn.gov
The Tennessee Conservative [By Adelia Kirchner] –
Before their legislative session adjourned on Friday, April 21st, the Tennessee General Assembly officially passed legislation to restrict foreign ownership of property within the state.
This legislation will uphold state sovereignty and adhere to U.S. foreign policy according to the bill text which states that, “A sanctioned nonresident alien, sanctioned foreign business, or sanctioned foreign government, or an agent, trustee, or fiduciary thereof, shall not purchase or otherwise acquire real property in this state” if their country of residence is on the U.S. sanctions programs and country information list.
According to Sen. Nicely, there are a total of thirty-eight countries currently sanctioned by the U.S. government.
House Bill 0040 (HB0040) brought by Rep. Jay Reedy (R-Erin-District 74) was actually revived this month after being killed or “placed behind the budget” in committee last month, due to its fiscal note estimating a $80,000 cost for Fiscal Year 23-24.
On Friday, the legislation was amended to add clarifying language throughout and emphasize that the bill would not be retroactive, meaning it would not apply to any real property purchased and/or held before its effective date of July 1st, 2023.
HB0040 then passed in the House with a 72-18 vote and was sent over to the Senate for consideration. Memphis Democrats Rep. G.A. Hardaway and Rep. Joe Towns, Jr. were recorded as voting in favor of the legislation.
The eighteen nay votes in the House were maintained by Democrat Representatives Beck, Camper, Chism, Clemmons, Dixie, Glynn, Hakeem, Harris, Johnson G, Jones, Love, McKenzie, Miller, Mitchell, Parkinson, Pearson, Powell, and Shaw.
The Senate amended the legislation as well, this time to add clarifying language to the section stating that real estate licensees, attorneys, and title companies or agents licensed in Tennessee involved in relevant transactions will not be held liable for violations of the act; the relevant foreign person(s) or entity would maintain liability.
Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville-District 21) opposed the bill, calling it a “relatively dangerous piece of legislation” because he believed it would act as an undue punishment to U.S. allies seeking refuge from their sanctioned country of residence.
“Those people are not welcome in their countries. They are targeted by those countries,” Yarbro said, “This legislation would punish the people who have moved here because they were helping our soldiers.”
The Senate version of this legislation, Senate Bill 0122 (SB0122) was brought by Sen. Frank Nicely (R-Strawberry Plains-District 8), who emphasized its importance saying, “People back home are tired of these foreign countries coming up here and buying up our farmland, buying up our assets.”
The Senate conformed SB0122 to its House version, HB0040, and proceeded to pass the legislation by a vote of 22-3. The three nay votes in the Senate were maintained by the only Democrat Senators present at the time, Akbari, Campbell, and Yarbro.
Now that this legislation has passed in both chambers of the legislature, it will be sent to the Governor’s Office where Gov. Lee can either veto the bill, sign it, or allow it to become law without his signature.
About the Author: Adelia Kirchner is a Tennessee resident and reporter for the Tennessee Conservative. Currently the host of Subtle Rampage Podcast, she has also worked for the South Dakota State Legislature and interned for Senator Bill Hagerty’s Office in Nashville, Tennessee. You can reach Adelia at email@example.com.