You can watch the floor debate on Sen. Ernie Chambers' bill to repeal Nebraska's death penalty via NET, Nebraska's PBS and NPR stations.
The Omaha World-Herald reports, "New faces may turn tide on capital punishment," by Paul Hammel.
The most ardent supporter of capital punishment has left the Nebraska Legislature.
The harshest critic is back.
And some newly elected state senators oppose the death penalty, unlike the folks they replaced.
As lawmakers gird for an emotional debate Monday on a death penalty bill, supporters voice hopes that a repeal could happen this year. They say some unlikely conservatives may join their cause due to the higher legal and emotional costs of prosecuting such cases.
“This may be the first time in a long time that we have enough senators to repeal it,” said State Sen. Sara Howard of Omaha, who was elected in November.
“I'm optimistic, in a freshman way,” she said.
That might be overly optimistic.
Gov. Dave Heineman still supports the death penalty and would likely veto any move to repeal it.
And a leading proponent of capital punishment, Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha, indicated Friday he would likely mount a filibuster to thwart any repeal attempt.
Halting a filibuster requires a supermajority of senators, 33 of the 49 lawmakers, a high bar even for less emotional issues.
“I'll do whatever it takes to stop it,” Lautenbaugh said.
That death penalty opponents envision a majority of senators, 25, will support an end to capital punishment represents a dramatic shift at the State Capitol. The last time capital punishment came to a formal vote, in 2009, only 13 senators voted in support of repeal.
But things have changed since then.
"Report: Death penalty is costly, inefficient," is by Kevin O'Hanlon for the Lincoln Journal Star.
As Nebraska lawmakers prepare to debate whether to abolish the death penalty, a new report says the state has spent an exorbitant amount of time and money on capital punishment -- with few results.
"The average delay for appeals more than doubles for death sentences: 13.3 years versus 5.8 years for life sentences," attorney and longtime death penalty opponent Alan Peterson said in a report given to lawmakers Friday. "The number of appeals for death cases averages 7.76, and the number of appeals for life sentences averages only 1.64 filings."
Lawmakers will begin debate Monday on a bill (LB543) 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.
Last week, Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland signed a law making that state the sixth in as many years to abolish the death penalty and the 18th overall to abandon capital punishment.
And some observers sense this could be the year Nebraska lawmakers follow suit.
NTV posts, "Senators to Debate Ending Death Penalty," by Steve White.
Political interest runs high Monday, as Nebraska law makers debate life and death -- and whether or not to end the death penalty, and instead give killers life in prison without parole.
The proposal from Sen. Ernie Chambers is nothing new, in fact, he has introduced similar legislation every year he's been in office for decades.
But many of those proposals failed to get out of committee. This proposal surprised many when it advanced from committee on a 7-0 vote.
Sen. Les Seiler of Hastings voted to advance the bill. Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial did not vote, a sign he opposes the measure to do away with the death penalty.
The bill has the support of Catholics and Methodists plus Nebraskans for Peace and the ACLU.
In addition, a number of conservative lawmakers have shown support for the measure.
"Lawmakers prepare to debate LB 543," is the KHAS-TV report by Lauren Conley.
Nebraska is one of 32 states that have the death penalty.
Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers has fought this for years.
Chambers introduced LB 543 back in March. The bill would eliminate the death penalty in the state, life in prison would be the alternate charge.
Lawmakers are set to debate the bill Monday.
Today's Lincoln Journal Star publishes the OpEd, "Why I support repeal of death penalty," by Sen Colby Coash.
My stance on the use of the death penalty has gone through changes. I found it easy to have a pro-death penalty stance until faced with the option of having a voice in the policy.
Before my policymaking role, I had never given much consideration to the matter. It seemed reasonable. It felt right to be on the side of justice for the victim. An "eye for an eye" had a nice ring to it. The phrase appealed to my sense of justice.
That sense of justice, however, changed when I began to meet the relatives of actual victims.
More than my experiences as a senator, however, one event changed my heart, mind and my outlook on capital punishment. On Sept. 3, 1994, as a college freshman, I took a short trip to the Nebraska Penitentiary to bear witness in the parking lot of the execution of Willie Otey.
I can only describe what I saw there as ugly.
Earlier coverage of the Nebraska repeal legislation begins at the link.