CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – Both sponsors of a bill that would require all New Hampshire felons to supply DNA samples for a national databank say they may back more narrow efforts.

The bill sponsored by Rep. David Welch, R-Kingston, and Rep. Steve Shurtleff, D-Concord, would cover all convicted felons, but Welch said in general, he supports DNA testing for a narrower set of felons and doesn’t think it’s necessary to include nonviolent offenders. Shurtleff said he also supports DNA collect from violent felons first.

“I think this might be a little bit too much at this time,” he said of including all felons.

Last year, the House voted down an effort to greatly expand the number of felons that could be tested. Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, who led the charge against the expansion, said he could support wider DNA testing of felons “as long as we’re thoughtful about who is required to have their DNA tested.”

New Hampshire is among three states that don’t collect samples from all convicted felons. Eleven states require those convicted of some misdemeanors to be tested, while others take DNA samples when people are arrested or charged.

Barbara Keshen of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union believes the push toward DNA testing has gone too far in those states.

“Just because you’re accused of a crime, should you have your DNA on a national database?” she said.

Kurk doesn’t believe New Hampshire lawmakers will be influenced by the national trend.

“This state doesn’t go along with the crowd. This is an independent state,” he said. “The issue needs to be decided on what’s best for the interests of New Hampshire citizens.”


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