PIERRE, S.D. – Republican Gov. Kristi Noem suffered a second defeat Tuesday on a significant policy initiative. On an 11 to 23 vote, the Senate defeated Senate Bill 185.
It would have established a Committee on Foreign Investment and revised provisions related to foreign ownership of agricultural land.
The bill’s target was China and the Chinese Communist Party’s control over companies and land ownership.
Republican Sen. Erin Tobin from Winner carried the bill on the Senate floor. She said though a small percentage of land transactions in the state were by foreigners, they could significantly impact the state’s security.
Tobin and other Senators noted the need to protect Ellsworth Air Force Base and its basing of the B-21 Raider stealth bomber.
“China wants the intelligence (on the bombers),” she said.
Opponents said the intention behind the bill was good and needed too much work. They also warned of unintended consequences and giving a governor a veto over a land transaction involving a foreign company or national.
Proponents said even if the bill wasn’t perfect, the Senate should pass it on to the House for more work.
Bill opponent, Republican Sen. Lee Schoenbeck from Watertown, said someone could buy a double-wide trailer near Ellsworth Air Force Base and fill it with electronics to spy. He said the bill wouldn’t cover that.
The House State Affairs Committee also killed a Noem Administration proposal to end the sales tax on food, sending it to the 41st legislative day.