N.H. Legislators Try Again to Repeal Death Penalty

Two years after repeal of New Hampshire’s death penalty law failed on a tie vote in the Senate, the Senate has approved SB 593 on a 14-10 vote. The bill would change the penalty for capital murder to life imprisonment without the possibility for parole.

SB 593 has been assigned to the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee where a hearing is yet to be scheduled.

SB 593 has a long bipartisan list of co-sponsors, led by Sen. Kevin Avard (R-Nashua). In an op-ed published in the New Hampshire Union Leader two days before the Senate vote, Sen. Avard wrote about his reason for introducing the legislation. An excerpt:

SINCE THE DEATH penalty was reinstated in the United States in 1973, for every 10 people who have been executed across the country, one person has been exonerated. Can we continue to live with a 10 percent wrongful conviction rate in capital punishment cases? I cannot, which is why I have introduced a bill to abolish the death penalty in New Hampshire.

I have reached the point where no argument made in favor of capital punishment can overcome the reality that having the death penalty inevitably means that innocent people have been and will continue to be wrongfully convicted and executed. The only way to guarantee that the innocent are not wrongfully executed is to abolish capital punishment.

A Union Leader news report published the day after the Senate hearing on the bill said that people testifying in opposition included the president of the N.H. Chiefs of Police Association, the chief steward of the Manchester Police Patrolmen’s Association and president of the New Hampshire Police Association. The report also said that Governor Chris Sununu has threatened to veto the bill in the form passed by the Senate.

State Senate district 12: Kevin Avard’s record

Former state representative Kevin Avard (R-Nashua) is campaigning to unseat Democrat state senator Peggy Gilmour of Hollis. How do their voting records compare on the life issues?

Their terms have not overlapped, so the two of them have never voted on the same bill. Many life-issue bills originate in the House and never make it as far as the Senate. Given those limitations of comparison, here’s what we know from the public record.

In this photo from the Kevin Avard for NH State Senate Facebook page, the candidate sports a "precious feet" lapel pin.
In this photo from the Kevin Avard for NH State Senate Facebook page, the candidate sports a “precious feet” lapel pin.

Avard voted for the ban on partial-birth abortion (HB 1679, 2012), and he supported the successful override of John Lynch’s veto.. He also voted in favor of Women’s Right to Know (informed consent, HB 1659, 2012) and in favor of keeping public funds away from abortion providers (HB 228, 2011-12); unfortunately, both bills fell short of passage. He voted to kill an assisted suicide bill (HB 513, 2011). Finally, he was part of the decisive majority that restored New Hampshire’s parental notification law (HB 329, 2011).

This year, Gilmour voted to pass the buffer zone bill (SB 319). She also voted against restoring the sponsor’s language to Griffin’s Law (fetal homicide, HB 1503), effectively voting to gut the sponsor’s intent. Gilmour’s donors include EMILY’s List, a PAC committed to electing “pro-choice” Democratic women.

Sen. Peggy Gilmour
Sen. Peggy Gilmour (Facebook photo)

On the death penalty, Gilmour supported its abolition this year via HB 1170, which failed on a tie vote in the Senate. Avard’s term saw passage of HB 147 (2011), the Cates bill, expanding the death penalty to be applicable to certain crimes committed during home invasions. The bill originally passed the House on a voice vote. When the House was asked to concur with Senate changes before passage, Avard voted Yes.

State senate district 11 covers Nashua wards 1, 2 and 5, and the towns of Brookline, Hollis, Greenville, Mason, New Ipswich and Rindge.

 

Gallery: pro-life rally sponsored by Women for Bob Smith, 8/17/14

Women for Smith pro-life rally, 8/17/14

Candidates gathered on State House plaza in Concord Sunday afternoon to make their pitches to pro-life voters. Here’s a selection of the speakers. Thumbs up to Women for Bob Smith, who organized the event and managed to bring together a wide variety of candidates.

Bob Smith, running to regain his seat in the U.S. Senate representing New Hampshire: "I don’t know if you know the impact that you have, and how much it means to me that you’re out there."
Bob Smith, running to regain his seat in the U.S. Senate representing New Hampshire: “I don’t know if you know the impact that you have, and how much it means to me that you’re out there.”
 Andrew Hemingway, candidate for governor, on the right to life: "Is there any other greater cause? No. This is it. The pinnacle. You must take the energy from this day and move this cause forward."
Andrew Hemingway, candidate for governor, on the right to life: “Is there any other greater cause? No. This is it. The pinnacle. You must take the energy from this day and move this cause forward.”