Banking Commerce and Insurance

Foreign land purchase measure clears first round

Lawmakers amended and advanced a bill to select file March 5 that would require an affidavit for real property purchases near sensitive military areas in Nebraska.

Sen. Brian Hardin
Sen. Brian Hardin

LB1120, as introduced by Gering Sen. Brian Hardin, would require a purchaser of real property within a restricted area to sign an affidavit indicating that they are not affiliated with any foreign government or nongovernment person considered to be a foreign adversary of the U.S. by federal law.

A restricted area would be defined as a county that does not contain a primary or metropolitan class city and is within a 10-mile radius of a military installation.

A Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee amendment, adopted 41-0, replaced the bill. As amended, LB1120 would apply to purchases of “covered real estate,” which is defined in federal law, and would include an example affidavit. Completed affidavits would be sent by the register of deeds to the state attorney general’s office.

Hardin said Nebraska is home to 80 intercontinental ballistic missile launch facilities and nine alert facilities that are sensitive for national security purposes. The upcoming replacement of those Minuteman ICBM facilities with the new Sentinel ICBM system has increased concerns regarding land purchases in the area, he said.

“Eyes from across the world are looking at the Nebraska panhandle,” Hardin said. “LB1120 is an important safety check protecting Nebraska land from foreign adversaries.”

Niobrara Sen. Barry DeKay supported the proposal, saying a number of bills have been introduced this session that would work together to protect the state’s land.

“It is imperative that we take action to preserve Nebraska land from external threats,” DeKay said.

Hardin offered an amendment to the committee amendment that he said would address concerns raised by stakeholders after the bill advanced to the floor of the Legislature for debate.

The amendment would further clarify which real estate is subject to the bill’s provisions by referencing federal regulations that identify all of Banner, Cheyenne, Kimball and Scotts Bluff counties and specific parts of Newel, Garden, Morrill and Sioux counties as “sensitive land” for national security purposes.

The amendment also would specify that the responsibility for determining whether an affidavit is required rests solely with the purchaser and that no individual or entity other than the purchaser would bear civil or criminal liability relating to an affidavit.

Following adoption of the Hardin amendment 40-0, lawmakers advanced LB1120 to select file on a vote of 38-0.

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