Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - A new bill was heard in the Montana Legislature on Thursday that would prohibit any ‘foreign adversary’ from obtaining ownership over what is termed as ‘critical infrastructure’ within the state.

KGVO News spoke to the bill’s sponsor State Senator Ken Bogner about the concept behind SB 203 which would prohibit foreign adversaries from owning, leasing, or renting critical infrastructure in Montana, including agricultural production land.

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“This came about after a 2019 Executive Order that directed the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to determine who our adversaries were, and they came up with a list that included China, North Korea, Russia, and Iran,” said Bogner. “There was a land purchase in North Dakota, near a military base that raised some red flags with one of those countries making a purchase, and then there were some questions if this was happening in Montana.”

Bogner said the initial reception towards the bill was positive.

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“This is something I heard from constituents, farmers, and ranchers in my district and across Montana,” he said. “They've been wanting something that really puts our adversaries in check and to make sure who we know that is buying our agricultural land and who has control of our critical infrastructure. It’s had a great reception so far. The Committee meeting is today (Thursday) in Senate Ag so we’re expecting a lot of proponents on the bill.”

Bogner said the idea of such a bill has already been pursued in other agricultural states, so it’s not a far-fetched idea.

“Not at all,” he said. “This is something we really need to be focusing on not just in Montana but across the country. Our own federal government is saying these are adversaries, and we must pay attention to them, let alone especially giving them access to our critical infrastructure and our food supply. This is a really big deal and this is something that our country needs to take seriously.”

Bogner said the Bill is Proactive for Montana

Bogner said the bill is proactive because the issue has not arisen yet in Montana as it has in other states.

“No, and we want to keep it that way,” he said. “We don't want adversaries moving in. We want to be proactive. This is one of those issues where we need to get ahead of it before it actually happens here and that's the goal of Senate Bill 203.”

Click here to see the bill’s progress through the state legislature.

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