Senate passes bill banning local property development by foreign adversaries

The bill passed the Senate in a 47-0 floor vote on Feb. 16, and the House in a 87-3, with four absent, floor vote on April 17

North Dakota Capitol
North Dakota Capitol in Bismarck. Forum file photo

BISMARCK – A bill that would ban foreign adversaries from developing and owning property in the state passed the Senate 47-0 during a floor vote on April 26.

Senate Bill 2371 , introduced by Sen. Bob Paulson, R-Minot, states that county and city boards "including a board in a home rule county, may not procure, authorize, or approve a development agreement, building plan or proposal relating to county development with an individual or government identified as a foreign adversary" by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

The bill originally passed both chambers earlier this session, but conference committee worked to make further amendments to the bill over the past week.

Some of those amendments made by the committee include specifying that the Attorney General's Office would conduct a civil review “to the extent allowable by law, relating to the qualifications of any foreign adversary business entity acquiring real property,” when requested by a city council, county commission, title agent or company.

In addition to an individual or government being identified as a foreign adversary by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, an amendment to the bill also includes a person identified on the Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctions list.


The prohibition wouldn’t apply if a registered business owned by a foreign adversary in the state:

  • has maintained "good standing" status with the secretary of state for seven years or longer before the effective date of the bill;
  • has been approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS);
  • and maintains an active national security agreement with the federal government.

Before the vote, Paulson said the bill’s legislative management study reflects elements that were in House Bill 1503, which also sought to prohibit foreign ownership of real property in the state. While House Bill 1503 passed the House 93-0 in February, it later failed a Senate floor vote due to its similarities to Senate Bill 2371.

The legislative management study will be pursued during the 2023-24 interim to determine the number of people that "own or control any real estate or commercial assets or operate a business within this state which is owned by, controlled by or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of foreign adversaries or individuals acting on behalf of or in conjunction with foreign adversaries or persons listed on the office of foreign assets control sanctions list.”

Paulson said the study will “develop a process to determine how to define, create and implement a security review verification system that monitors and reviews the actions of foreign adversaries. Additionally it will determine circumstances, if any, under which foreign adversaries are prohibited from or permitted to own real property in the state.”

The bill will sunset on July 31, 2025. Paulson said at that time legislation can be passed when findings from the study are presented.

In addition to Senate Bill 2371, House Bill 1135, which seeks to bar foreign governments and businesses they control from buying agricultural land in the state, passed both the North Dakota House and Senate and has been signed by Gov. Doug Burgum.

Meghan Arbegast grew up in Security-Widefield, Colorado. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from North Dakota State University in Fargo, in 2021.

Arbegast wrote for The Spectrum, NDSU's student newspaper, for three years and was Head News Editor for two years. She was an intern with University Relations her last two semesters of college.

Arbegast covers news pertaining to the city of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks including city hall coverage.

Readers can reach Arbegast at 701-780-1267 or

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