Kansas and Nebraska Consider Death Penalty

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

An attempt to abolish Kansas' death penalty is back on track, giving capital punishment opponents another, unexpected chance to argue that it's too expensive when the state faces budget problems.

The Kansas Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-5 on Thursday to forward the bill to the chamber. That decision came only a day after the committee voted to have the bill studied further this summer, which would have ended this year's debate.

Death penalty opponents have made the costs of capital punishment their main argument this year because of the state's financial problems. Opponents claim there wouldn't be any real savings in repealing it.

Senate President Steve Morris said this would be the first time his chamber has debated whether to have a death penalty since it was enacted 15 years ago. He said he didn't know when the bill will be brought up.

"There are probably more people supportive of it than you might think," the Hugoton Republican said. "I wouldn't be surprise to see it pass out."

Morris said he voted for the 1994 death penalty law, but hasn't decided how he will vote on repealing it.

The Nebraska Unicameral is also considering death penalty bills in the wake of the 2008 decision by the state Supreme Court to outlaw the electric chair, calling it a cruel and unusual punishment.

The ruling left the state with no legal way of carrying out death penalties.

There are 11 men on Nebraska's death row; the last execution occurred in 1997.

The Judiciary Committee is expected to vote next week on whether to advance a ethal injection measure (LB36) to the full Legislature.

There might also be a vote to advance a bill (LB306) to repeal the death penalty.

The Judiciary Committee appears poised to suggest changes to the lethal injection bill that wouldn't affect who is subject to the death penalty.

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