Debate in the Nebraska Legislature is underway on a bill that would end capital punishment in the state. Watch the debate live on NET Television’s NET2, and participate in a live chat from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. CT with legislative reporter Fred Knapp, news director Dennis Kellogg and reporter Bill Kelly, who recently produced a documentary on the history of the death penalty, “… until he is dead.”
Check out a timeline of efforts to repeal the death penalty in Nebraska.
Brief background on this week’s debate:
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, a longtime foe of the death penalty who has returned to the Legislature this year after being forced out for four years by term limits.
When a similar proposal was voted on in 2007, it was defeated on a vote of 25-24. But only 18 of the senators who voted then are still in the Legislature now.
The debate comes at a time when an increasing number of states have abolished the death penalty: from 2007 to the present, six states have done so, bringing the total number of states without capital punishment to 18. In some cases, the prohibition applies only to new sentences; those under current death sentences remain so.
Nebraska’s proposal to abolish the death penalty was advanced by the Judiciary Committee on a vote of 7-0, with one abstention. It would require 25 votes in each of three rounds of voting in the 49-member Legislature to pass. But it would require 30 votes to overcome an expected veto by Gov. Dave Heineman.