Fla. Gov. DeSantis Signs Two Bills to Combat Foreign 'Influence,' Singles Out China in Remarks

Nick Kangadis | June 8, 2021
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While very little seems to be done federally concerning China and its practices and actions that affect different aspects of our lives, on the state level two bills were signed into law on Monday that limits the financial and legislative reach of adversarial countries, like China.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed two separate bills on Monday "that aimed to stop the spread of foreign influence in the state and to strengthen penalties against those convicted of espionage," according to The Daily Wire.

The two bills, HB 1523 is referenced as the "Combatting Corporate Espionage in Florida Act," while the other, HB 7017, doesn't look to have a specific name included in the bill text.

HB 1523's summary entails the following:

Prohibits theft of trade secret; prohibits trafficking in trade secrets; reclassifies penalty & increases offense severity ranking for an offense committed with specified intent; requires court to order specified restitution for violation; provides for civil actions for violations; provides exception to criminal & civil liability for certain disclosures.

HB 7017 lists the following purposes of the bill:

Requiring any state agency or political subdivision to disclose certain gifts or grants received from any foreign source to the Department of Financial Services within a specified timeframe; requiring any entity that applies for a certain grant or proposes a certain contract to disclose to a state agency or political subdivision any current or prior interest of, contract with, or grant or gift received from a foreign country of concern under certain circumstances; requiring institutions of higher education to semiannually report to certain entities regarding certain gifts they received directly or indirectly from a foreign source; authorizing a whistle-blower to report an undisclosed foreign gift to the Attorney General or the Chief Financial Officer; authorizing the Chief Financial Officer to incur expenditures to provide such reward from the penalty recovery; requiring certain state universities and other entities to screen certain foreign applicants seeking employment in specified research positions; requiring certain state universities and other entities to establish an international travel approval and monitoring program, etc.

The Daily Wire reported on multiple comments that DeSantis made regarding the signing of the bills, why they were passed and what the hope is by passing them. But, one segment of his speech sums it all up pretty well:

We knew that we needed to stand up, we knew that we needed to start taking a stand against this [foreign influence], because it’s really gotten out of hand. And I really hope that we’re going to have accountability for the origins of the COVID pandemic, because this just, this did not need to happen. And yes, the Chinese Communist Party is primarily to blame. But there’s also American money that very well may have flown to Wuhan, there were U.S. bureaucrats who were involved at a minimum of trying to divert attention away from the true origins. And so all of those folks need to be held accountable. And I do think China, what we’re doing here as a state level is important, it’s significant. But there’s much more that needs to be done to be able to combat CCP influence within the United States.