At Tuesday’s meeting of Maine’s legislative council, Rep. Katrina Smith (R-Palermo) proposed a bill that would stop hostile foreign governments, and citizens of hostile nations from purchasing or developing agricultural land, mines, quarries, or timberland in Maine.
“As is proven by current ownership of real property by Chinese nationals,” said Rep Smith, “We already have foreign countries wreaking havoc in our state, and we must put measures into place to protect our people and our industries.”
Smith’s bill would have been similar to laws in Florida, Texas, and Arkansas, preventing Chinese foreign nationals from owning or developing land in those states.
The proposal came in part as a response to the over 200 illegal Chinese-operated marijuana grow sites discovered throughout rural Maine.
Smith argued that her bill warranted emergency status because foreign ownership of Maine land is currently posing a serious problem for rural Mainers and law enforcement.
“An example of this emergency situation lies with the numerous Chinese-owned illegal grow operations being found throughout Maine,” said Smith.
The proposed bill failed despite receiving majority support from the legislative council.
The bill received a vote of 5 “yes” and 4 “no,” with all Republicans on the council supporting the bill, along with Democrat Sen. Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook).
Sen. Jackson decided to support the bill after he was assured that it applied to corporations, not lawful permanent residents from countries on the hostile nations list.
Sen. Eloise Vitelli (D-Sagadahoc) was absent from the voting, having left the Legislative Council meeting earlier.
Despite receiving majority support, the proposal failed because the legislative council requires that a proposal must receive 6 votes in favor in order to move forward.
As legislative attempts to curtail Chinese criminal operations throughout Maine continue to fail, Maine’s law enforcement has finally begun to step up and take action against the illegal grow sites.
Early this month, police in Belgrade and China, Maine, seized significant amounts of illegal marijuana and made multiple arrests.
Watch Rep. Katrina Smith Present her bill: