Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 12:45PM
Twice within the last 14 years, the New Hampshire House has voted to repeal the death penalty only to have the issue fail further down the line, once through the veto pen of Governor Jeanne Shaheen (who, along with then Rep Ray Buckley was about the only elected Democrats in the state to support capital punishment), once in the Senate.
Come next year, anti-death penalty advocates in New Hampshire (and a considerable number of Replicans, albeit not a majority are in this group) will have their best chance ever to enact the repeal.
For different reasons, both Democrat Maggie Hassan and Republican Ovide LaMontagne are on record as opposing the death penalty, so it would most likely become law if votes can be mustered in the House and Senate.
Ovide, along with no small number of pro life Republicans (like Rep. Kathy Souza from Manchester Ward 4) oppose the death penalty in an admirable quest for consistency--if you oppose killing with an abortion, they believe we should not be killing with capital punishment either.
This puts Ovide clearly at odds with Republican Speaker Bill O'Brien who actually rammed through an extension of the death penalty this past session. However, if Democrats make major gains as expected, enough Republicans would join them to form a majority, For example, Judiciary Chair Robert Rowe, a former judge, has always opposed the death penalty; he told me this morning at the Republican unity breakfast.
Filing begins Monday for incumbents who won their primary contests; expect a death penalty repeal to be filed sooner rather than later.
Former Hampton Rep Rennie Cushing, whose father was murdered, has spoken out eloquenty against the death penalty in the past. With Rennie not present this past session, I noted on the floor how my father was also murdered; back in the mid-50s (I have no recollection of him), but I have always opposed the death penalty which is banned in every civilized country in the world. My friends in Europe never could figure out how we still resorted to it--the wild west mentality, I always tried to tell them.
With nearly every Democrat against the death penalty (and Raybo no longer has a vote), I would expect repeal to pass the House. Would either Governor Hassan or LaMontagne expend political capital to get it through the Senate?
That's an interesting question, one we very well could see answered next year.