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Kansas AG says the bill preventing foreigners from buying land in Kansas must be prioritized

TOPEKA — It’s time to keep China off Kansas farmland, Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach said, announcing his support for legislation intended to prevent Kansas farmers from selling that land to foreign entities.

The bill in question, Senate Bill 100, would ban any non-US citizen from buying real estate in Kansas in certain areas. The bill would also give the attorney general the authority to investigate real estate transactions believed to involve foreign agents. Exemptions to the bill would include properties located in Johnson, Sedgwick, Shawnee or Wyandotte counties, along with properties acquired before July 1, 2023.

Kobach said these counties were left out of the legislation because the concern was about foreign interference with agriculture, not urban businesses.

“It is mainly Chinese interests that are buying up large amounts of farmland, in an obvious effort to gain control of an ever-increasing share of our food supply,” Kobach said. “And the reason is apparently to serve Chinese national interests and ensure that China has access to the products of these lands, not the interests of Kansas.”

Kobach, joined by Tony Mattivi, his candidate for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and Rep. Michael Murphy, R-Sylvia, also outlined other priorities for the legislative session during a Thursday press conference. These priorities included tackling ESG standards, reducing retail crime, tackling fentanyl and eliminating the hidden costs of transportation permits.

He said one of his top priorities would be to work to ban the use of environmental, social and governance standards in state investment. Kobach said the state has a fiduciary duty to raise returns and state dollars should not be used to promote partisan programs.

“As a member of KPERS, I would like to see my dollars invested to maximize financial return, not to promote any particular partisan agenda or ideological agenda,” Kobach said.

Kobach said he supports legislation by Murphy and Senator Mike Thompson that would require investment advisers to notify clients and obtain written consent before placing clients’ money in an ESG-based fund. She said factors such as phasing out fossil fuels, working towards carbon-neutral agriculture and reducing timber use should not be used to determine investments without client approval.

“Now for some people, those are lofty goals,” Kobach said. “And to those people, I would say you should push those goals forward in the legislatures of this country and in Congress. This is the place to discuss whether or not America should use less fossil fuels or any of those issues. But it’s not something that you should use Kansas hard-earned dollars or Kansas taxpayer dollars to further these goals.

To combat fentanyl use in the state, Kobach said his office will send a request to the Kansas Sentencing Commission asking for a special column on fentanyl crimes, aiming to increase penalties for fentanyl-related crimes. Kobach said that more KBI resources would also be devoted to fentanyl issues.

Kobach also announced the creation of a Task Force on Organized Retail Crime, which would involve his office, local law enforcement and retailers in fighting retail crime. He also mentioned a bill that would give the attorney general’s office the original perpetual authority in multi-county crimes, saying the legislation would help it end large-scale retail thefts.

Mattivi said he was pleased Kobach was focusing on the problems of retail crime and fentanyl, saying the two should be the KBI’s top priorities. He compared fentanyl to crack cocaine and methamphetamines, saying fentanyl would devastate communities in similar ways.

“Now we’re seeing the same thing happen with fentanyl,” Mattivi said. “And we recognize that we are at the forefront of what unfortunately could turn out to be a tidal wave. The Attorney General stated absolutely correctly that this problem will get worse before it gets better.

Kobach said his latest priority was to make concealed carry permits free statewide, in the belief that eliminating the fees would make gun ownership safer. He said Kansans would be motivated to get permits and undergo training with the removal of fees, and that he didn’t believe people should pay to use firearms.

“You shouldn’t have to pay to exercise a constitutional right,” Kobach said. “Journalists should not and should not pay the state a fee to report on what the state does. Church goers, we don’t have to pay the state the tax to exercise our free exercise of religious rights when we go to church. Nor should people have to pay the state a fee to exercise their second amendment right to bear arms.

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