"Bill to end death penalty advances out of Judiciary Committee," is the title of Joe Duggan's Omaha World-Herald report.
Nebraska lawmakers will once again debate the death penalty after a proposal to repeal capital punishment advanced Tuesday to the floor of the Legislature.
Although Legislative Bill 543 was expected to obtain the minimum five votes to get out of the Judiciary Committee, none of the eight members voted against it. Only Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial abstained.
The bill is the priority of Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, who wants to outlaw state executions and replace them with terms of life without parole. Chambers has fought to end execution throughout his long legislative career.
Nebraska law currently allows the use of lethal injection for condemned killers, although that method has not yet been used in the state. It was adopted in 2009 after the Nebraska Supreme Court deemed the electric chair cruel and unusual punishment.
None of the current 11 death row inmates are scheduled for execution because of a pending legal challenge involving one of the state's three lethal injection drugs. Nebraska last executed an inmate in 1997.
After Tuesday's committee meeting, Christensen said he chose not to vote because he wants to hear a floor debate on the issue. Although he still believes death is a just punishment in certain cases, his position has evolved over the years, in part because the death penalty is so expensive to carry out.
"Committee advances measure to abolish death penalty," is the Lincoln Journal Star report by Kevin O'Hanlon.
The full Nebraska Legislature will get a chance to debate whether to abolish the death penalty.
The Judiciary Committee voted 7-0 Thursday to advance a bill (LB542) by Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha to change the death penalty to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Chambers, the most ardent death-penalty opponent in the Legislature, was re-elected to his north Omaha seat in November after sitting out four years because of term limits. Each year from 1973 to 2008, he introduced a bill to abolish the death penalty.
In 1979, his bill passed but was vetoed by then-Gov. Charles Thone.
Among those supporting this year's effort at a recent hearing was the Nebraska Innocence Project, which is part of a national network to give free legal representation to people wrongly convicted of crimes.
Earlier coverage of the Nebraska repeal legislation begins at the link.