WASHINGTON – A year ago Montanans decided they would withhold state services from illegal aliens, and now their lawmakers are preparing to take the next step to make sure state residents are in the United States legally.
The legislature is reviewing a bill that would penalize any city that chooses to establish a "sanctuary" policy.
The move comes just as the debate in Washington over amnesty for illegal aliens commences, putting Montana at the head of the line in addressing the issue.
State Rep. Krayton Kerns, R-Laurel, a supporter of Montana House Bill 50, said the plan "prohibits cities and municipalities in Montana from setting up a sanctuary city status and sets up a mechanism whereby state funds will be withhold if they set up a sanctuary city status."
HB 50 states, "A local governing body may not enact, adopt, implement, or enforce a sanctuary policy and may not refer a sanctuary policy to the electors of the governing body's jurisdictional area."
It further holds that any state agency handing out state funding may require cities to certify that they are in compliance with the policy "as a condition of funding."
"We like to be favorable place for legal aliens, legal residents and all citizens … [however] we are trying to be an unfavorable place to illegal aliens," Kerns said.
The bill is currently in the Montana House Judiciary Committee and will be voted on Friday.
Asked by WND if he thinks it will pass, Kerns said, "I think it will."
Kerns, a veterinarian, hosts his own blog and is the author of the book "Ramblings of a Conservative Cow Doctor."
According to the Great Falls Tribune, the bill's sponsor, Rep. David Howard, R-Park City, said HB 50 "creates a defense in wonderful Montana where they won't come here."
He clarified the sole purpose of the bill "is to protect Montanans."
Kerns noted it's not the first time the bill has been introduced.
"The last one the former governor [Brian Schweitzer] vetoed."
Schweitzer, a Democrat, was succeeded by Steve Bullock, another Democrat.
Just last year, Montanans voted 79.5 percent in favor of LR 121, which denied state services to illegal aliens.
According to the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform, illegal aliens cost Montanans about $32 million, the lowest state total in the nation.