State House crime bill hearings the week of Feb. 19

Try to attend the crucial bill meetings marked in red type below about some crucial bills to help prisoners and their loved ones. Failing that, you can still email your written testimony to the appropriate House or Senate committees. Just go to the web page for a chosen committee and find the mass committee email address.  As I have  done for you below with the House Criminal Justice Committee.

On Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019

NH HOUSE CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY, Representatives Hall in the State House. Public hearing at 10 a.m. on HB 455 to abolish the death penalty for capital murder. This bill would not spare the life of Michael Addison, who is still appealing his death sentence for shooting police officer Michael Briggs to death in 2006. Supporters say it would be impossible to enact a bill that takes Briggs off death row. The last execution in New Hampshire was in 1939. Friends of CCJR need to testify for this bill as a worthy cause and to stand in solidarity with our natural allies in the struggle for better crime laws. Written testimony later would be welcome too. You can email it to every House committee member at this address:

NH SENATE JUDICIARY, Room 100, State House 


10:15 a.m. SB 35, making a technical correction to the bail statute. 

10:30 a.m. SB 314-FN, relative to release of a defendant pending trial. 

11:30 a.m. SB 91, relative to the release of a defendant pending trial.

On Wednesday, Feb. 20

CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY, Room 204, Legislative Office Building (LOB)

10:00 a.m. Executive session on HB 455-FN, relative to abolishing the death penalty going forward. Supporters will not have a chance to testify, but their presence as watchdogs will make a strong and needed statement.

1:30 p.m. HB 705-FN, increasing the cap on assistance for victims of crime and relative to the rights of victims of crime. 

2:00 p.m. HB 722-FN, relative to the retail sale and taxation of marijuana. 

2:30 p.m. Subcommittee work session on HB 726-FN, to plan a new secure psychiatric unit and make a related appropriation. Gov. Chris Sununu asked lawmakers in high state of the state speech to fund a new secure psychiatric unit at the state hospital.

State House luncheon against the death penalty

Legislators and staff are cordially invited to a complementary lunch in the State House Cafeteria on Wednesday, February 20th from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. We will be informally discussing the death penalty in New Hampshire and the ongoing efforts to repeal it. You will have an opportunity to meet two death row exonerates, Kirk Bloodsworth, the first person to be freed with DNA evidence, and Ray Krone, wrongfully prosecuted because of junk science. A number of repeal advocates, including some of your colleagues in the legislature, will be on hand to answer questions and provide information. Rep. Renny Cushing

On Thursday, Feb. 21


11:00 a.m. Executive session on HB 109-FN, requiring background checks for commercial firearms sales; 

HB 481-FN-A-L, relative to the legalization and regulation of cannabis and making appropriations therefor; 

HB 705-FN, increasing the cap on assistance for victims of crime and relative to the rights of victims of crime; 

HB 722-FN, relative to the retail sale and taxation of marijuana; 

HB 726-FN, relative to the secure psychiatric unit and making an appropriation therefor. We expect the committee to vote overwhelmingly for this bill.

HOUSE FINANCE, Rooms 210-211, LOB, Budget presentations

10:30 a.m. Department of Corrections. The department is requesting $132.6 million for next fiscal year and $135.8 million the following year. The current budget is $128.3 million. The insurmountable problem has been low salaries that drive staff turnover and skyrocketing overtime costs. Those have risen from $4.9 million in 2012 to $9.4 million in 2016 to $12.5 million in the current fiscal year. Too many employees are working two, three and four overtime shifts every week. Friends and family of prisoners need to support higher prison spending during the future House budget hearing.Here is the draft budget:

The full Senate meets at 10 a.m. to vote on these two crime bills. 

SB 298-FN, relative to summoning out-of-state witnesses in criminal cases. Recommended Ought to Pass, Vote 5-0. This bill authorizes a procedure to secure the attendance of a witness from the commonwealth of Massachusetts to testify in a criminal matter in this state. Establishing this procedure will make the process easier for prosecutors, public defenders, and private attorneys to get cases resolved, while still protecting the due process rights of witnesses. 

SB 299-FN, requiring good behavior as a condition for release without arrest or bail. Ought to Pass, Vote 5-0.  This bill adds a good behavior requirement to the form of the summons issued in lieu of arrest and as a condition for release without arrest or bail. The implementation of this change will offer more efficiency for our officers and allow for the use of discretion to determine the appropriateness of a summons versus bail.

On Tuesday, March 5

9 a.m. House subcommittee meeting on HB 229 in Room 301 of LOB. We wrote this bill requiring Corrections to get all of its policies reviewed and approved by the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules. We will ask lawmakers to retain HB 229 for ongoing study, the same thing that happened to our similar prison rulemaking bills in 2017 and 2018. The overall picture is much brighter this time, because Corrections finally promulgated some superb rules for the sex offender treatment program last year. Those are being updated this month and later this spring, and we support what they are doing. The department has also hired a full complement of five teachers and a supervisor, who offer the program much earlier in a prisoner’s sentence. Those changes should help keep 200 inmates from going past their minimum bids each year, as they did from 2013 to 2016.


10:00 a.m. HB 687-FN, relative to extreme risk protection orders.