With Sununu's Veto Looming, GOP Lawmakers Argue Death Penalty Repeal Makes Fiscal Sense

May 1, 2018

Credit NHPR Staff

Governor Chris Sununu has promised to veto a bill that would abolish the death penalty in New Hampshire. But some of his fellow Republicans say ending capital punishment makes fiscal sense.

They're hoping that argument could, in part, help sway enough votes to overturn a veto.

 

Senate Bill 593 passed the Senate last month and cleared the House last week. But neither chamber voted in favor with a high enough majority to override a possible veto.

 

Senator Kevin Avard, a Republican from Nashua, is the the bill's primary sponsor and points to millions of dollars in legal costs for death row cases as part of the reason to end capital punishment.

 

“And then, when it's all [said] and done, we still have to build a facility,” Avard said. “You know, the fiscal part of it is definitely a contributing factor as to why we should repeal this.”

 

Currently, New Hampshire does not have an execution chamber. A 2008 estimate put the cost of a lethal injection facility at $1.7 million.

 

Rep. David Danielson, a Republican from Bedford, also highlighted costs associated with the death penalty on the House floor last week.

 

“As a member of the Finance Committee, my concern with the death penalty is simply the cost of appeals,” Danielson said. “From a financial perspective, then, the death penalty does not make sense for the state of New Hampshire,” he added.

 

Senator Avard said he did not know how soon a veto would come from Governor Sununu.

 

“I stand with crime victims, members of the law enforcement community, and advocates for justice in opposing a repeal of the death penalty,” Governor Sununu said in a statement. “A top priority of my administration has been to strengthen laws for crime victims and their families. Repealing the death penalty sends us in exactly the wrong direction, and I will veto this bill once it reaches my desk.”