Lehigh State Rep. sponsors legislation reviewing Pa.’s competitive status with China

To review Pennsylvania’s competitive status with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Rep. Ryan Mackenzie (R-Lehigh) is sponsoring legislation to create a select committee in the House of Representatives. 

The legislative is bipartisan, as Rep. Danilo Burgos (D-Philadelphia) is the measure’s co-prime sponsor. 

If the measure is approved, the select committee will investigate, review, and provide findings and recommendations regarding the status of the CCP’s economic, technological, and security progress as it relates to its competition with Pennsylvania and the United States. 

The U.S. House of Representatives recently created a committee to investigate competition with the CCP at the federal level, and Mackenzie said in a statement that Pennsylvania’s select committee would be similar. 

“We believe there are many issues at the state level regarding our competition with China that need to be examined as well,” said Mackenzie. 

State-related issues referenced by Mackenzie include the following: 

  • Banning TikTok on all Pennsylvania government-owned devices. 
  • Divesting the state from Chinese assets connected to the CCP. 
  • Prohibiting the sale of state agricultural land and critical land near military bases by Chinese investors with ties to the CCP. 
  • Oversight or banning of Chinese investment or donations connected to the CCP that may be made to Pennsylvania colleges and universities. 
  • Locations of, and work being conducted by, Department of Community and Economic Development trade offices. 

A co-sponsorship memo seeking bipartisan support for the legislation is being circulated by Mackenzie and Burgos. The legislation is expected to be introduced in the approaching weeks.

TikTok banned from Pa. Treasury devices

TikTok, the China-based social media app which the head of the FBI recently deemed a national security concern, has been banned from all Pennsylvania Treasury-issued devices. 

Treasurer Stacy Garrity announced the ban Thursday. The move will protect the Pennsylvania Treasury Department’s computer systems. 

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, which is based in Beijing. Garrity said in a statement that as the Treasury Department’s computer network is targeted constantly by criminals and scammers, TikTok presents a danger due to its collection of personal data and close connection to the communist Chinese government. 

“Banning TikTok from Treasury devices and systems is an important step in our never-ending work to ensure the safety of Pennsylvanians’ hard-earned tax dollars and other important, sensitive information entrusted to Treasury,” Garrity said. 

TikTok had not been used on any Treasury-issued devices, according to an internal security review conducted by Treasury this month. The Treasury ban covers phones, laptops, and desktop computers. In addition, Treasury’s firewall has been updated to block access to both the TikTok app and its corresponding website from the Treasury network. 

Congress is prepared to bar federal employees from using TikTok on government devices. Numerous states have banned the app, including Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. 

TikTok has also been banned by Florida’s Department of Financial Services, Louisiana’s Department of State, and the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office. The Indiana Attorney General has filed two lawsuits against TikTok.