Art SwannFeaturedForeign EntitiesInternational Traffic in Arms RegulationsReal EstateSB1950Senate Bill 1950State NewsTennesseeTennessee General AssemblyTennessee land

Bill Filed To Prohibit Foreign-Party-Controlled Business From Owning Land In Tennessee

Image Credit: Land Between the Lakes KY/TN / Public Domain

The Tennessee Conservative [By Adelia Kirchner] –

Last year, Tennessee legislators passed a bill into law that attempted to restrict foreign ownership of state property by prohibiting foreign entities and individuals of sanctioned countries from purchasing real estate in Tennessee.

This year, Sen. Art Swann (R-Maryville-District 2) is bringing a bill to take this a step further by focusing on countries subject to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) which could cut back on the amount of Tennessee property currently being held onto by foreign entities.  

Senate Bill 1950 (SB1950), as introduced, “prohibits certain foreign-party-controlled businesses from acquiring an interest in public or private land” in Tennessee.

For the purposes of this bill, “prohibited foreign party” is defined as a citizen, resident or government of a country subject to the ITAR.

This includes other persons organized under law of or associated with a foreign government subject to the ITAR. 

A “prohibited foreign-party-controlled business” is defined as “a corporation, company, association, firm, partnership, society, joint-stock company, trust, estate, or other legal entity whose controlling interest is owned by a prohibited foreign party.”

According to SB1950, a prohibited foreign-party-controlled business, including individuals who are agents, trustees, or fiduciaries of that business “shall not acquire by grant, purchase, devise, descent, or otherwise any interest in public or private land in this state.”

In the case that a prohibited foreign-party-controlled business holds onto land in violation of this legislation, “the court shall order that the public or private land be sold through judicial foreclosure.”

The legislation also prohibits “certain foreign parties from acquiring agricultural land in this state” and land acquired in violation of this act must be divested within two years of land acquisition or SB1950 taking effect, whichever applies.

The bill text specifies that a prohibited foreign party, including individuals associated with that party cannot acquire any interest in agricultural land in Tennessee regardless of the intended use of that property.

Those in violation will remain in violation as long as the prohibited foreign party continues to hold interest in the agricultural land.

Exceptions include prohibited foreign parties who are a “resident alien” of the U.S. However, if that individual loses “resident alien” status they are required to divest of the agricultural land within two years of moving out of Tennessee. If this is not done, the land will be sold through judicial foreclosure.

Resident aliens are defined as individuals who are not U.S. citizens but maintain residency in the U.S. and its territories. 

Violation of this act would be a Class E felony punishable by up to 2 years in prison and/or a $15,000 fine. 

SB1950 has not been assigned to a Senate committee at the time of this article’s publication, but if the bill is passed by the state legislature, it would take effect on July 1st, 2024.

Click here for more 2024 bills on foreign ownership in Tennessee.

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 adelia@tennesseeconservativenews.com.

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