A controversial bill that initially aimed to ban all property ownership by Chinese citizens in Texas won't be moving forward.
A watered-down version of the bill passed the Senate last month and moved on to the Texas House of Representatives, where it fizzled out this weekend. House Speaker Dade Phelan opted not to hold a weekend hearing, rendering SB 147 and several other Senate proposals dead on arrival.
The bill, introduced in December by Republican state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, originally aimed to ban all property ownership by citizens of North Korea, Iran, Russia and China, making no exceptions for dual citizens or visa holders. It gained support from Gov. Greg Abbot, who put the bill on the map by tweeting, “I will sign it.”
“The growing ownership of Texas land by some foreign entities is highly disturbing and raises red flags for many Texans,” Kolkhorst said in a release at the time. “By comparison, as an American, go try to buy land near a Chinese military base and see how it works out for you.”
The premise was enough to galvanize Asian Texans in unprecedented ways. They protested and marched across the state from Austin to Dallas, holding signs that read “Stop Asian Hate” and “Stop Chinese Exclusion.” Hundreds brought their fears to the state Senate floor, using their testimony to plead with lawmakers to kill the bill.
“There’s people who are asking if they need to get out of the state, like right now,” Democratic state Rep. Gene Wu, who represents a heavily Chinese district, told NBC News in March. “I have never seen the Chinese community this active and this motivated in my entire adult life. The community is inflamed right now. They are enraged.”
In response to the outcry, Kolkhorst introduced a new version of SB 147 without language preventing individuals from buying homes.
Kolkhorst did not respond to a request for comment.
Legislation that died in the House alongside SB 147 included a bill to ban “critical race theory” in universities and another to restrict drag queen story times at libraries.
Asian activists in the state say their fight is far from over and that the end of this bill "does not undo the racist and xenophobic rhetoric lobbed by elected officials,” Lily Trieu, interim executive director of Asian Texans for Justice, told NBC News. “We will continue to stand up against discrimination and racism against the Asian American community.”