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Howdy neighbor- a warm welcome to Communist China

My comments from the Senate, 2/21/23 for SB 185, to establish the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States – South Dakota and revise provisions related to the foreign ownership or control of agricultural land. This bill was killed in the Senate on a vote 11-23 although the prime sponsor has made a motion to reconsider, so, to be continued...

I rise in support of SB 185. Make no mistake; this is a national security issue.

I represent District 35 in South Dakota- the proud home of Ellsworth Air Force Base. Its location here is not only a benefit to the state of South Dakota but also highly strategic. EAFB is landlocked, which makes it less prone to surveillance from enemy subs, ships, and other threats. Because it is located so far north, it can readily defend the United States from attacks over the North Pole. Because our area isn't highly populated, it is easier to detect unusual activity.

If Communist China were able to buy land anywhere near Ellsworth Air Force Base, they could conduct surveillance on activities and operations with ease. The Air Force is already raising the alarm over a Chinese company's purchase of land 12 miles from Grand Forks Air Force Base- we cannot willingly risk our national security by allowing the Chinese Communist Party to buy land near the only home of the B-21 bomber.

The Chinese government wants intelligence on that aircraft. And the easiest way for them to get it would be to buy land in our own backyard.

President John F Kennedy referred to the Communist threat as "an enemy, power[full], unrelenting and implacable who seeks to dominate the world by subversion and conspiracy." And he asserted, "All problems are dwarfed by the necessity of the West to maintain against the Communists a balance of power."

No amount of money is worth the threat to our national security. We do not need to do business with a Communist country that willingly murders its citizens for the freedoms we, as a democratic republic, have sacrificed so much to protect. We are elected to the legislature to give us the ability to be strong, brave leaders on behalf of the citizens of this state. We have the opportunity today to lead the charge in defending our country by voting to protect South Dakota's agricultural land and, therefore, the national security of the United States of America.

The Ellsworth Development Authority and our state's Adjunct General have both stated we need this legislation – and we need it now.

I ask for your favorable consideration of Senate Bill 185.


You can watch the Senate debate here, starting at 49:00 minutes

In the end, the Senate chose to defeat this bill. With all due respect to opponents, here are the top takeaways from debate:

1. Farmers and ranchers and the organizations representing them are good people. I couldn't agree more. The disconnect I have is that it's acknowledged this is a serious concern, we're just not going to address it at this time. Why not? Anyone can be suppositional (I suppose), but some main influencers are financial, protecting large corporate and union interests. Many individual farmers and ranchers have been talking about this risk for years. At what point are their organizations no longer representing them?

2. Lawyers from northeastern South Dakota know more about national security then the Adjunct General or the SD Ellsworth Development Authority.

3. We are committed to upholding "safe" South Dakota's legislative reputation. The players in our legislature don't want to work hard and they don't want to work together. They don't want to be innovative and first at anything. We're just brave enough to be the 7th or 17th or 27th or 37th or 47th state to adopt legislation. Anything sooner is too risky. Who are we doubting here? Do we doubt our ability to craft good legislation, or our state's ability to lead (in anything) in the nation? Are we being judicially cautious or just lazy?

4. A Senator from southeastern South Dakota ironically pointed out a saying he heard growing up, "We need to defeat the communists in the rice paddies of Vietnam, so we won't be fighting them in the wheat fields of (the United States)." His argument could very literally point exactly to our argument, where fighting communists for the wheat fields of the United States is exactly what we're doing.

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