Gov. Pete Ricketts claims not to be surprised by the lack of questions raised about the death penalty during town halls he is holding throughout Nebraska.
At a recent town hall in Laurel, many questions were raised, but none about the death penalty.
Ricketts insists he wasn’t surprised that the issue didn’t come up.
“Well, it’s certainly something that (at) at lot of place it does, but it just kind of depends on the different town hall; what people want to talk about,” Ricketts tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate WNAX.
Ricketts vetoed LB 268, but the Unicameral overrode his veto and repealed the death penalty.
Shortly after the override, a petition drive began to force the issue to a vote of the people in November of 2016.
Ricketts supports placing the issue on the ballot.
“We all wished we lived in a world where we didn’t have to have a death penalty. But the fact of the matter is we have dangerous criminals out there. And, for instance, we ask our Corrections officers to deal with them every day in our prisons,” Ricketts says. “So, we want to have the death penalty as part of that good public policy and to really help protect our law enforcement officers and our corrections officers; really protect the people who protect us. And that’s why I’m so adamant that we need to retain the death penalty and why Nebraskans should vote on it.”
Ricketts supports the petition drive financially as well. He has given $200,000 to the group behind it, Nebraskans for the Death Penalty. The group’s latest campaign finance disclosure report shows the governor is its top individual contributor, followed by his father, Joe Ricketts, who has given $100,000.
A conservative group based in Washington, D.C., Judicial Crisis Network, has donated $200,000.
The group opposing the petition effort, Nebraskans for Public Safety, received $400,000 from the Proteus Action League, based in Amherst, MA. It received $31,520 in July.
Petitioners have a couple of goals to shoot for. They need a minimum of 5% of registered voters, roughly 57,500, to place the issue on the November 2016 ballot. If they gather 10% of the registered voters, or around 115,000 signatures, they can prevent the repeal from taking effect.
Jerry Oster, WNAX, contributed to this report.