Nebraska legislature leads charge to abolish death penalty

If bill overcomes veto threat, Nebraska will be the first GOP-dominated state in decades to end capital punishment.

Al Jazeera, By Naureen Khan, April 24, 2015

Nebraska’s Republican-dominated legislature is leading the charge to abolish the death penalty in the state, potentially making it the first GOP-controlled state in decades to ban the practice and setting up a confrontation with Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts.

State lawmakers approved Legislative Bill 268 late last week, which would replace the death penalty with life without parole, in a lopsided 30-13 vote, enough to overcome Ricketts’ promised veto if support holds. Backers of the bill, including several Republican advocates, are now trying to wrangle additional supporters to overcome the remaining legislative hurdles. Two more rounds of voting must take place under the rules of Nebraska’s unicameral legislature — the only one of its kind in the nation — and 33 state senators may be needed to break debate at the next stage.

“I’m actually very optimistic that we can get the votes we need for cloture to end the filibuster,” said Stacy Anderson, the executive director of Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, an advocacy group that has been lobbying legislators on the issue. “There are senators in the body who don’t support the repeal, but they support this being given an up-or-down vote. They believe a vote should be taken.”

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