Montana and New Hampshire State Elections Provide Expected and Unexpected Opportunities
FAIR Take | November 2020
After the November 3 election, two of the states that became trifectas have real opportunity to enact anti-sanctuary legislation. A trifecta is when one political party controls both chambers of the legislature and the governorship. This was expected by most observers in Montana but came as a surprise in New Hampshire.
As many had predicted, Congressman Greg Gianforte (R) was elected Governor of Montana. He will replace outgoing Governor Steve Bullock (D), who was term-limited and ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate.
Both chambers of the state legislature will remain under Republican control, making Montana a new GOP trifecta.
FAIR has identified at least two sanctuary jurisdictions in Montana, Helena and Butte-Silver Bow. As governor, Bullock vetoed an anti-sanctuary bill, House Bill (HB) 146, that would have ended their sanctuary policies and prevented any new ones.
Additionally, in March of this year, the Montana Supreme Court held that state law does not authorize state and local law enforcement to honor immigration detainers. Detainers are requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold suspected illegal aliens in custody up to 48 hours after their release on state criminal charges so that the agency can pick them up and begin the deportation process.
As a congressman, Gianforte voted to cut off federal funds to sanctuary cities. He appears likely as governor to support anti-sanctuary and other pro-enforcement bills if the legislature were to pass them in the future.
In addition to re-electing Gov. Chris Sununu (R) on November 3, Granite State voters also flipped both the House and Senate chambers. Previously under Democratic control, the legislature is now controlled by Republicans. This is the second time in two years that the legislature has changed hands. With an anticipated “blue wave” expected at the state and federal levels, few media or other observers had predicted this change in the state house. It was even more surprising since New Hampshire voters also pulled the lever for Democrats at the federal level.
The New Hampshire State Senate will go from being 14 Democrats and 10 Republicans, to 14 Republicans and 10 Democrats. While the exact numbers still aren’t final for New Hampshire’s 400-member House of Representatives (which was previously 230 Democrats to 157 Republicans) Republicans have taken at least 213 seats and therefore a majority.
Over the past two years, Gov. Sununu set a record by vetoing at least 79 bills sent to him by the Democrat-controlled legislature. While we expected that he would have vetoed open-borders bills, he never even got the chance. The bills to undermine our nation’s immigration laws, like the one to grant driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, didn’t even reach his desk.
With Republicans in complete control of the state, New Hampshire has a good chance to introduce and advance anti-sanctuary legislation in 2021.