Professor Eric Berger with the University of Nebraska College of Law says the assumption could be made that a conservative state like Nebraska would resist repeal of the death penalty.
“And a lot of people thought that with the most recent election of state legislators that the Unicameral might have become more conservative and yet on this issue there’s a pretty strong trend of Democrats and Republicans getting together and opposing capital punishment,” Berger tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha received strong support for Legislative Bill 268 after first-round debate. Legislators advanced his death penalty repeal bill on a 30-to-13 vote. The 30-vote threshold is important. That’s enough to withstand a gubernatorial veto. It’s not enough, however, to stop a filibuster should opponents determine to tie up debate on second round. Chambers would need 33 votes to end debate and force a vote on the bill.
As opposed to debates in the past, it appears some conservative lawmakers have turned against the death penalty.
Berger says practical reasons might well undermine philosophical support for capital punishment.
“If you like the death penalty, it’s not actually working; Nebraska and many other states with the death penalty aren’t actually executing people,” Berger explains. “So, it’s an expensive government program that actually isn’t accomplishing anything.”
Nebraska hasn’t executed anyone since 1997.
On the eve of the debate, Gov. Pete Ricketts’ office released a statement, declaring that the state has obtained the three drugs necessary for lethal injections. According to the governor’s office, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services has one drug on hand and has ordered the other two. Currently, NDCS possesses potassium chloride, according to the news release. The department has ordered sodium thiopental and pancuronium bromide from HarrisPharma.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:55]