"Arkansas Senate Panel Approves Death Penalty Bill," is the AP report, via Arkansas Business.
An Arkansas Senate panel on Wednesday advanced a proposal to rewrite the state's lethal injection law after it was thrown out by the state Supreme Court last year.
The bill spells out in greater detail the procedures the state must follow in carrying out executions, including the type of chemical to be used in the lethal injection. If it were to become law, Arkansas could resume capital punishment, though additional litigation and other legal challenges would likely further delay executions.
Lawmakers have been trying to craft new, more specific death penalty legislation after the state Supreme Court said it was an unconstitutional for the Legislature to leave it up to the state Correction Department to decide what type of lethal drugs to use in an execution.
The proposal sponsored by Sen. Bart Hester, R-Carve Springs, and approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday would require the state to carry out death sentences by administering a lethal dose of a barbiturate. The previous 2009 law allowed the director of the Department of Correction to choose one or more chemicals to be used in the lethal injection.
And, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel testified at the hearing:
McDaniel told lawmakers that although he believes the bill resolves the Supreme Court's constitutional concerns, he expected the matter to be litigated further.
"I suspect that we will be facing litigation again just as soon as this statute becomes law because we're always going to be facing litigation in the world of capital punishment," he said. "But we have attempted to anticipate any concerns that could be raised."
"Senate panel endorses death penalty bill," is by Rob Moritz for the Arkansas News Bureau.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday endorsed a bill that details the procedures the state Department of Correction is to use to put a condemned prisoner to death.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel testified for Senate Bill 237 by Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, before the panel recommended unanimously that the measure go to the Senate.
“I am not here to debate the merits of the death penalty one way or the other,” McDaniel said. “My job is to carry out those sentences and assist the state in carrying out those sentences in a constitutional manner.”
Thirty-seven inmates are on death row, eight of which have exhausted all appeals and are awaiting execution, the attorney general said.
Executions in Arkansas have been on hold since the state Supreme Court last year struck down the state’s death penalty law, saying a provision that gave the state prison director authority to select the drugs used in the execution was unconstitutional. The high court said the Legislature must set the type of drugs used in the process and the quantity.
“The court raised concerns about separation of powers and we believe that’s been remedied simply by some clearer language and clarification of the process,” McDaniel told the committee Wednesday.
Earlier coverage from Arkansas begins at the link.