New Hampshire close to ending death penalty


New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) has said she will sign a bill repealing the death penalty (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

A New Hampshire legislative committee on Thursday reversed an earlier position and endorsed a bill to repeal the state’s death penalty, setting up a vote on final passage next week.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 to endorse the bill ending the death penalty. Earlier this week, the panel had deadlocked with one member absent; a tie vote automatically killed the bill’s chances.

The full Senate will vote on repeal on April 17. Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R) told the Associated Press the vote won’t break down along party lines, and will likely be close.

Republicans control 13 of New Hampshire’s 24 state Senate seats. One Republican joined two Democrats in the Judiciary Committee to give the bill a positive recommendation.

The Democratic-controlled House voted overwhelmingly earlier this year to end the death penalty, and Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) said she supports the proposal.

The New Hampshire legislature passed a death penalty repeal in 2000, but then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D) vetoed the bill.

If the measure passes, New Hampshire would become the 19th state to end the death penalty. Neighboring Maine was one of the first states to abolish it all the way back in 1887. Vermont ended capital punishment in 1964, and Massachusetts followed suit in 1984.

The measure wouldn’t save the lone person on New Hampshire’s death row. Michael Addison, convicted in 2006 of murdering a Manchester police officer, would be the first person executed in New Hampshire since 1939.

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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