BATON ROUGE, La. — The House passed a bill 78-22 Tuesday that would prohibit certain foreign adversaries or people connected to them from acquiring immovable property in Louisiana.
House Bill 537, authored by Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, caused a stir at a recent committee hearing with many people protesting that it would allow landlords and home sellers to deny access to immigrants from countries deemed adversaries.
The bill lists China, Hong Kong, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela under the leadership of President Nicholas Maduro as adversaries.
The bill was amended several times both by the committee and on the House floor to address the concerns
The bill now says that it would not apply to any natural-born U.S. citizens, anyone here lawfully with authorization from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or to the sale or rental of single-family, residential homes.
“If they would read the amendments, I think they would feel very comfortable that we are not addressing that,” Hodges said. “We are addressing corporations who are trying to buy critical infrastructure.”
Rep. Patrick Jefferson, D-Homer, said the bill could be further revised to specify its main focus.
“Why not just say that?” Jefferson asked. “Why not say that so that it can kind of dispel any unintended consequences?”
In defense of her bill, Hodges said, “My bill doesn’t go nearly as far as others.”
Hodges said 14 other states have implemented similar bills. Rep. Aimee Freeman, D-New Orleans, pointed out that one of those states, Florida, is facing a lawsuit over the law.