The business group Associated Industries of Florida on Monday urged state officials to move cautiously in carrying out a new law that restricts people from China from owning property in the state, saying it “could have unintended and negative consequences for investment in Florida and therefore limit the freedom of Florida’s future growth.”
The law (SB 264), signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in May, limits land ownership by people from what Florida calls “foreign countries of concern” — China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and Syria, with part of it specifically focused on Chinese people who are not U.S. citizens or permanent U.S. residents.
In a letter Monday to state Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Melanie Griffin, Associated Industries President and CEO Brewster Bevis focused on how one section of the law will be carried out.
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For example, Bevis wrote that if the section is interpreted too strictly, a U.S. real-estate fund could be prevented from investing in Florida if “passive” Chinese limited partners have small stakes.
“As your agency decides how the law will be interpreted and applied, I encourage you to closely examine the language in (the section of the law),” Bevis wrote. “Some interpretations of this section may be so broad as to apply to any publicly traded company with even minimal investment from the People’s Republic of China, even if the majority of investment and control in real estates is owned, controlled and operated by people in the U.S.”
Four Chinese people and a real-estate brokerage that serves Chinese clients have filed a federal lawsuit and sought an injunction against the law, arguing it is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor heard arguments on July 18 on the injunction request but had not ruled as of Monday afternoon.
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