Senators to Debate Ending Death Penalty


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.

But if they were to get enough votes, they'd likely face a veto from Gov. Dave Heineman, a strong supporter of the death penalty. A number of senators side with the governor, believing capital punishment is needed for the most heinous of crimes.

Five senators have signed on as introducers of LB 543. They would likely need a total of 30 votes, the number needed to override the governor.