An official public discussion of the death penalty will get underway next week as the Secretary of State holds hearings on the November ballot issue.
In November, Nebraska voters will decide whether to uphold or overturn the Unicameral’s move to repeal the death penalty.
Secretary of State John Gale moderates hearings in each of the Congressional districts.
“So, these public hearings by law are giving both sides a formal opportunity to present their position as well as allowing the public to testify if they want to express their views,” Gale tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Gale understands the gravity of the issue before voters.
“I would say that it’s probably equally as emotional and highly charged as any other issue I’ve seen in my 16 years as Secretary of State,” Gale says.
The University of Nebraska, Omaha hosts the first hearing on the 11th. Two days later, the University of Nebraska, Kearney hosts a hearing. The hearings wrap up at the state Capitol on the 18th.
State law requires public hearings on ballot issues.
These hearings are on Referendum No. 426, the formal number on the ballot, asking voters to either retain or repeal Legislative Bill 268. The Unicameral in 2015 approved LB 268 over the veto of Gov. Pete Ricketts, repealing the death penalty in favor of the sentence of life in prison. A petition drive not only gathered enough signatures to force a public vote, but enough to keep the repeal from going into effect.
Supporters of the legislative action will speak first, followed by opponents. Any member of the public is welcome to testify. Gale will moderate the hearings.
The dates, times and locations for each hearing are as follows:
· October 11, 2016, 6:30 p.m.
University of Nebraska, Omaha
Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center, Rooms 201, 205 & 209
6400 University Drive South
· October 13, 2016, 6:30 p.m.
University of Nebraska Kearney
UNK Nebraskan Student Union, Ponderosa E
1013 West 27th Street
· October 18, 2016, 6:30 p.m.
Nebraska State Capitol, Room 1525