NH House Overrides Veto to Repeal Death Penalty

CONCORD, N.H. (CN) – Overriding a veto by the state’s Republican governor, the New Hampshire House voted 247-123 on Thursday to advance bill banning the death penalty.

A screen shows the final tally at the New Hampshire House, where lawmakers voted 247-123 Thursday to override the governor’s veto of a bill repealing the death penalty. State Rep. Garrett Muscatel included the image in a tweet celebrating the move.

To become permanent, the death-penalty repeal bill still needs a vote from the state Senate to override Governor Chris Sununu’s veto. A similar effort failed last year, with the state Senate voting 14-10, two votes shy of the required two-thirds majority, to override the governor’s previous veto.

Next year will mark a full decade since the New Hampshire Death Penalty Study Commission released its final report that recommended the state keep the death penalty.

The last time that New Hampshire executed a criminal was 1939, when Howard Long was punished for the murder a 10-year-old boy, according to the commission’s report. Eighty years later, a single person, Michael Addison, sits on the state’s death row for the 2008 murder of Manchester police officer.

Quoting remarks given this morning by fellow Representative Renny Cushing, Democrat state Representative Garrett Muscatel tweeted  Thursday in support of the repeal.

“The death penalty is an abhorrent practice, and as the decades-long champion of this bill, @rennycushing said in his floor speech, we as a state have ‘evolved,’” Muscatel wrote. “The House set aside partisan differences to override the Governor’s veto, and we are better for it.”

In March, the Democrat-controlled House easily passed the death penalty ban, 279-88. The bill passed the state Senate, which also boasts a Democrat majority, about a month later, 17-6. In both cases, Republicans crossed the aisle to vote in favor of the ban, which was originally sponsored by six Democrats and six Republicans.

Despite the bipartisan support, Republican Governor Chris Sununu vetoed the bill on May 6.

“It is unfortunate that the House voted to override my veto in a rushed, politically motivated process,” Sununu said in a statement. “I will always fight for what I believe because it is simply the right thing to do. I hope the Senate will listen to law enforcement, families of crime victims, and advocates for justice and not abolish capital punishment.”

Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty, which argues against capital punishment from a fiscal standpoint, celebrated the override.

“The veto override was passed on a strong bipartisan vote because more conservatives than ever know the death penalty is a failed government program that does not value life, threatens innocent people, and wastes money,” Hannah Cox, national manager of the organization, said in a statement. “These factors drove many Republican New Hampshire lawmakers to vote for repeal this year, as they did last year when the GOP controlled the chamber.”

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