Bills To Stop China Tech Spending Advance, State Momentum Grows, Dangerous Spending Continues – March 19

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From 1 to 9 to 16: States Are Acting To Ban Dangerous China Tech. In 2019, Vermont was the single state that had banned risky technology by companies owned or operated by the Chinese government. By 2023, when China Tech Threat (CTT) released its States of Denial vs States of Momentum report, that number had grown to nine with four states passing laws in the spring of 2023 alone. As of March 1, 2024, 16 additional states are considering legislation and Utah is expected to be the first in 2024, as a new bill passed by the legislature awaits Governor Cox’s signature. Scroll below for interviews with several state lawmakers on why they made this issue a priority. 

New 2024 Data Indicates States Continue To Spend Millions On Restricted Tech. CTT’s original 2020 research found that nearly 40 states had contracts to purchase technology from Chinese government-owned technology manufacturers Lenovo and Lexmark. Our updated research released in the May 2023 report verified payments from 46 states totaling more than $285 million since 2015, with some states spending as much as $47 million on Lexmark or Lenovo products. In January 2024 we returned to this research in select states and discovered that states currently debating bills to stop the dollars flowing to Chinese companies have collectively spent close to $22 million since our last report – details available here. With this new spending, China Tech Threat’s original 50-state research concludes that U.S. states have since 2015 spent a total of more than $300 million on gear from Chinese government-owned tech companies Lexmark and Lenovo.

Utah Floor Fight Over Lobbyist Opposition Ends In Victory For Utah Residents. In the wanning hours of the 2024 Utah legislative session, HB 404, which would stop the state from purchasing tech manufactured by PRC-owned companies, was passed by the Senate, but not without some concerning opposition. Bill sponsor Senator Daniel McCay took to the floor to successfully deflect an 11th hour attempt by Lenovo lobbyists to weaken the bill. He explained the challenge: “One company is highly motivated… has hired a lobbyist, which is certainly within their right … we looked in procurement and since 2018 [the State of Utah has] spent more than $50 million with that company.

I can understand why they’re concerned about losing a $50 million deal or contract, but… the problems that we have as a country trying to secure our data and as a state… we would hate for that information to get back to a foreign entity that wants to spy.” The weakening amendment was soundly defeated, and the bill overwhelmingly passed 25-2 and is now on the way to Governor Spencer Cox for his signature. CTT lauds Representative Candice Pierucci and Senator Daniel McCay for their leadership and standing up to PRC tech companies.

General Spider Q&A On Legislative Momentum In State Capitols. Encouraged by the momentum demonstrated in the graph above, CTT caught up with CTT Principal General James “Spider” Marks for his take on the state progress in the 2024 legislative session. “We understand that this is a complex issue, but a key part of our message is that state oversight over how taxpayer dollars are spent makes them uniquely positioned to stop it. Prohibiting new purchases is the first step to “stop the bleeding” before then considering how to address dangerous technology already plugged into state networks,” he told CTT about the commitment by state lawmakers to take on this issue when national security doesn’t typically fall under their purview. Gen. Marks, who recently testified before the Arizona Senate Military Affairs, Public Safety, and Border Security Committee, also addressed the bipartisan support for these bills: “Lawmakers and their constituents recognize that spending taxpayer dollars on dangerous technology leads to not only compromising sensitive data and security, but is also going to fund the CCP, simply needs to stop.”

In Their Words: CTT Video Series Features Lawmakers Stating Their Concerns Over The Use of PRC-Owned Tech In Their States And What They Are Doing To Stop It.

📽️: Tune into CTT’s Youtube channel to hear  from Utah State Rep. Candice Pierucci, Maine State Senator Lisa Keim, New Hampshire State Rep. Terry Roy and Utah State Rep. Karianne Lisonbee why they are leading legislation in their states. 

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