Over the past week, we’ve been covering the efforts in the Texas and Louisiana state legislatures to pass restrictive bills banning the purchase or rental of land to Chinese nationals, and citizens of five other “foreign adversary” countries. Those bills have been widely criticized as discriminatory, and have triggered grassroots protests from Chinese Americans in both states. A similar bill was recently signed into law in Florida and is being challenged in court.
Despite the backlash, a heavily-amended version of Louisiana’s House Bill 537 was passed yesterday in a 78 – 22 vote. It will now move to the State Senate where a similar proposal – SB 91 – is scheduled for a floor vote today.
Among several changes made to the bill prior to the vote, HB 537 no longer applies to Chinese nationals on temporary work or student visas, or to the sale or lease of single- or small multi-family homes. These changes are likely the result of significant lobbying efforts by local Chinese Americans, who continued to protest outside the State Capitol building earlier this week. Nonetheless, some Chinese Americans who spoke to me off the record continue to oppose the bill, saying they fear that the bill will exacerbate anti-Chinese sentiment in the state.
In Texas, community activists might be able to claim a clearer victory. Following months of opposition from Asian American advocates, Senate Bill 147 – already heavily amended to no longer apply to Chinese national individuals – is now predicted to be unlikely to move forward to a floor vote.
WFAA reports that given the pending end to the State Legislative session, SB 147 is one of several bills to be effectively dead.
According to WFAA’s reporting, this outcome is due to backlash from Texas Chinese Americans, including democratic State Representative Gene Wu, who called the proposed bill “really, really racist”.
“The response from the community was historic. It was record-breaking. We had protest. We had marches that were the first by the Asian community in the state’s history,” said Wu, in a report by WFAA.