Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers introduces new death penalty repeal bill

Started by Rick4404, February 01, 2017, 01:48:47 PM

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Rick4404

Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers (11th legislative district, Omaha) has once again introduced a death penalty repeal bill.  Despite the fact that 61 percent of Nebraska voters voted to overturn a 2015 bill which repealed the death penalty.  Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts' veto of the bill was overridden by the one-house legislative assembly; but sufficient signatures on a veto referendum petition put that bill on hold until voters had their say in the 2016 general election. 

One of Chambers' colleagues in the Unicameral Legislature, Senator John Murante said, "The people spoke loud and clear and the death penalty will remain the law in our state.  We should respect the will of the voters."

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http://www.kmtv.com/news/local-news/chambers-submits-new-bill-to-repeal-nebraskas-death-penalty

Chambers submits new bill to repeal Nebraska's death penalty

By: Nick Starling, Associated Press
Posted: 4:37 PM, Jan 17, 2017
Updated: 11:11 PM, Jan 17, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP/KMTV) - Nebraska voters brought back the death penalty in November but that debate will return to the unicameral.

State Senator Ernie Chambers introduced his latest bill to eliminate executions two years after a similar measure became law.

Chambers has tried to outlaw the punishment for roughly four decades.

While nearly 61-percent of voters decided to overturn the legislature's decision to abolish the death penalty, Senator Chambers takes the fight to the legislature again.

KMTV spoke to UNO political scientist Paul Landow who says never underestimate Senator Chambers.

"There's no way anyone should count out senator chambers he's a wily tough competitor -he's made it happen before when no one thought he could," said Landow.

Landow says the fate of the death penalty is again-now in the hands of the senators.

"Now there's only 49 votes again that matter versus the entire state of Nebraska if you're trying to get it back through the legislature," said Landow.

In 2015, a majority of senators voted with Senator Chambers to get rid of the death penalty and overcame a veto from Governor Pete Ricketts.

A group partially financed by Ricketts responded with a petition drive that suspended the law until voters decided whether to keep it.

In November of 2016 more than 60-percent of Nebraska voters decided to reinstate the death penalty in a very contentious fight between the two sides on this issue.

Landow says those results could weigh in-when senators debate this bill, "Some senators may say-'we'll look my constituents spoke and I don't want to get into it anymore'".

The makeup of the legislature is different now too, with 17 brand new senators who haven't dealt with this issue before, and a number of them re-elected.

"It's entirely possible that a senator that's really opposed to it deep down the year he or she was re-elected  but now has been reelected and is opposed to it again," said Landow.

But with a more conservative legislature-it may be an uphill battle.

"I suppose you would have to say the odds are against him," said Landow.

However Landow points out the legislature is an independent body and could surprise us all.

KMTV did reach out to many of our local senators for comment, Senator Bill Kintner said, "The Legislature has a lot of work to do, including passing a budget. A death penalty repeal bill is a distraction that has no chance of passing this legislature."

Senator John Murante said, "The people spoke loud and clear and the death penalty will remain the law in our state.  We should respect the will of the voters."

Copyright 2017 Scripps Media, Inc. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

deeg

Has Senator Chambers taken a page out of the California playbook?   >:(
The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money - Margaret Thatcher
The most terrifying words in the English language: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." - Ronald Reagan

Rick4404

Has Senator Chambers taken a page out of the California playbook?   >:(
I wouldn't know about that, but Sen. Chambers has been fighting the death penalty ever since he was first elected to the state's unicameral legislative body back in the early 1970s. He stands as the longest-serving state legislator in Nebraska history.  It's like repealing the death penalty has long since become a personal mission of his. 

Nebraska is also embroiled in a lethal injection issue of its own.  The state does not have a supply of the lethal drugs that would be needed to carry out an execution.  The state has attempted to purchase the drugs from a foreign supplier, but wound up having them confiscated by the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency, because the state lacked the proper import permits. 

Accordingly, Nebraska is in a holding pattern as to whether the state will be able to carry out an execution anytime soon.  The state made the switch from the electric chair to lethal injection a few years ago, but has not carried out an execution by lethal injection since the change was made. 

resist

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The state does not have a supply of the lethal drugs that would be needed to carry out an execution.  ...
Accordingly, Nebraska is in a holding pattern as to whether the state will be able to carry out an execution anytime soon.  The state made the switch from the electric chair to lethal injection a few years ago
They not only switched from electric chair, they ruled it unconstitutional, thereby making it unavailable as a backup method.

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/02/08/nebraska.electrocution/index.html?_s=PM:CRIME

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Republican Gov. Dave Heineman said the ruling amounted to "judicial activism."

"I am appalled by the Nebraska Supreme Court's decision," he said. "Today the court has asserted itself improperly as a policy maker. Once again, this activist court has ignored its own precedent and the precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court to continue its assault on the Nebraska death penalty."

Rick4404

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The state does not have a supply of the lethal drugs that would be needed to carry out an execution.  ...
Accordingly, Nebraska is in a holding pattern as to whether the state will be able to carry out an execution anytime soon.  The state made the switch from the electric chair to lethal injection a few years ago
They not only switched from electric chair, they ruled it unconstitutional, thereby making it unavailable as a backup method.

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/02/08/nebraska.electrocution/index.html?_s=PM:CRIME

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Republican Gov. Dave Heineman said the ruling amounted to "judicial activism."

"I am appalled by the Nebraska Supreme Court's decision," he said. "Today the court has asserted itself improperly as a policy maker. Once again, this activist court has ignored its own precedent and the precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court to continue its assault on the Nebraska death penalty."
Theoretically, at least, the Nebraska Legislature could pass a bill to reauthorize the electric chair; the ruling of the state Supreme Court notwithstanding. 

As far as Senator Chambers' bill goes; it is Legislative Bill 446.  Here's the link:  http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/FloorDocs/105/PDF/Intro/LB446.pdf

The bill was scheduled for a hearing in the Judiciary Committee on March 22, 2017.  Seeing no updates on the status, I assume the committee hasn't voted on the bill yet, whether to advance it to the first round of debate -- general file -- or to indefinitely postpone it, thus killing the bill. 

This session of the Legislature must adjourn sine die no later than the 90th legislative day, which falls on Friday, June 2nd; in that the session will have reached its constitutionally-mandated end.  In the odd-numbered years, the Legislature may be in regular session for no longer than 90 legislative days.  In the even-numbered years, the Legislature may be in regular session for no longer than 60 legislative days. 

Legislative leaders have said the primary focus of this session is to get a state budget passed for the two-year budget cycle, and a death penalty bill would be a huge distraction.  "There is no chance that a death penalty repeal bill will pass this session," one lawmaker said. 

Rick4404

#5
September 13, 2017, 02:35:12 PM Last Edit: September 13, 2017, 02:39:16 PM by Rick4404
Senator Ernie Chambers bill didn't even make it to the first stop in the consideration process. The Judiciary Committee of the one-house legislature heard testimony on the bill on March 22 of this year.  The bill is being "pigeonholed" by the Judiciary Committee.  The committee had not taken a vote whether to advance the bill for further consideration or not before this year's legislative session adjourned sine die. 

This means the bill became what is known as a "Carryover Bill," meaning it will be reintroduced for consideration in next year's legislative session, beginning in early January of 2018. 

I honestly don't know what Senator Chambers' problem is.  The people of Nebraska voted overwhelmingly in 2016 to retain the death penalty.  Chambers and his colleagues in the Unicameral Legislature need to abide by the will of the people.  Admittedly, Nebraska has no viable means of carrying out a death sentence right now as the state has been unable to obtain a sufficient quantity of the lethal drugs that are needed to carry out an execution with.

Perhaps Nebraska needs to consider implementing a backup method of execution -- hanging, firing squad, etc. -- if the stalemate continues concerning the state's inability to obtain the lethal drugs necessary to conduct an execution with.  The electric chair is apparently out, given the Nebraska Supreme Court's ruling that it violates the state constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishments.   

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