On May 8, 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Florida SB 264 (Laws of Fla. chs. 2023-32), which generally restricts the issuance of government contracts, economic development incentives, and real property ownership by foreign principals associated with the following foreign countries: the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Cuba, the Venezuelan regime of Nicolás Maduro, and the Syrian Arab Republic. The law will take effect on July 1, 2023.
The new law significantly impacts Florida real estate transactions as well as individuals and business entities associated with the abovementioned foreign countries. As it relates to the conveyance of real property in the state of Florida, the bill generally:
• Prohibits foreign principals from owning or acquiring agricultural land in the state.
• Prohibits foreign principals from owning or acquiring any interest in real property within 10 miles of any military installation or critical infrastructure in the state.
• Prohibits China, Chinese Communist Party, or other Chinese political party officials or members, Chinese business organizations, and persons domiciled in China but who are not citizens or lawful permanent residents of the U.S. from purchasing or acquiring any interest in real property in the state.
• Provides limited exceptions from the ownership restrictions for the purchase of one residential property up to 2 acres in size that is not on or within 5 miles of any military installation in the state.
• Provides a de minimis ownership interest exception to include noncontrolling interests in companies controlled by a company that is both registered with the SEC as an investment adviser and is not a foreign entity.
The law also imposes new requirements on all buyers within the state. At the time of purchase, buyers of agricultural land or real property on or within ten miles of any military installation of critical infrastructure facility are now required to provide an affidavit signed under penalty of perjury attesting that the buyer is not a foreign principal from one of the prohibited foreign countries of concern. The law delegates the responsibility for adopting rules to implement this provision to the Florida Real Estate Commission, including rules establishing the form for the affidavit.
The bill also amends:
• The Florida Electronic Health Records Act requiring that the offsite storage of certain personal medical information be physically maintained in the continental U.S., U.S. territories, or Canada.
• The Health Care Licensing Procedures Act requiring licensees to sign affidavits attesting that all patient information they store is being physically maintained in the continental U.S., U.S. territories, or Canada.
Finally, the bill amends the statute criminalizing threats and extortion to provide that a person who violates the law while acting as a foreign agent to benefit a foreign country of concern commits a first-degree felony.
On May 22, 2023, a group of Chinese citizens living and working in Florida filed suit against the state of Florida, seeking an injunction against the implementation of SB 264, alleging that the law is unconstitutional and discriminatory. To date, an injunction has not been issued.
If you have any questions regarding SB 264, please contact the authors or a member of Gunster’s Government Affairs Law & Lobbying team.
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This publication is for general information only. It is not legal advice, and legal counsel should be contacted before any action is taken that might be influenced by this publication.
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