2009 Proposed or Passed Legislation

2009 - Proposed or passed legislation (*-states with bills to abolish death penalty--11 states, plus federal bill)

State
Description
Status
Alabama

1.Bill to allow death row inmates to petition for DNA testing

2. Bill to impose 3-yr. moratorium on executions

 3. Bill to allow more family members of victim and defendant to view execution.

1. HB 146 - Enacted into law 5/15/09

#2. Passed Senate Judic. Com. 6-1 (Apr.8).

#3. PASSED AND SIGNED BY THE GOV. ON MAY 14.

Alaska

Bill to reinstate the death penalty

 

Hearings Feb. 23 & 25; being considered by House Judiciary Com.

SESSION ENDED ON APRIL 17 WITHOUT VOTE ON  REINSTATEMENT BILL.

Arkansas Bill to codify lethal injection and exempt procedure from Admin. Procedure Act (HB1706) Passed House 79-11; Passed Sen. Judic. Com. 6-2 with amendment that allows the chemicals used in lethal injection to be subject to public scrutiny. ENACTED INTO LAW 4/13/09.  The law allows the Corrections Dept. to choose one or more drugs to be used in lethal injections.
Colorado*

Bill to abolish death penalty and use the resources to pursue cold cases

 

Passed House Judiciary Com. 7-4

Passed House Appropriations Com. 8-4 (Apr. 3)

Passed House on 2d reading (Apr. 15); passage on 3d reading required 

Passed House 33-32 on Apr. 20.

Passed Senate Veterans & Military Affairs Com. 3-2.  Vote in Appropriations Com. on May 1.

Passed Senate Appropriations Com. 6-4 on May 1.

DEFEATED.

BILL WAS AMENDED IN SENATE TO PROVIDE MONEY FOR COLD CASES BUT NOT TO REPEAL DEATH PENALTY.  AMENDED BILL PASSED ON MAY 4. CONFERENCE COMMITTEE RESTORED REPEAL PROVISION BUT SENATE REJECTED THIS BILL 18-17 ON MAY 6 AT THE END OF THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION.

Connecticut*

1.Bill to abolish death penalty

2.Bill to require higher standard of proof for conviction in capital case

#1. Passed House Judic. Com. 24-13 on Mar. 31

Passed House 90-56 on May 13.

PASSED SENATE 19-17 ON MAY 21. GOV.  VETOED ABOLITION BILL ON JUNE 5. 

Delaware Bill to impose a moratorium on executions Passed out of House Judic. Com., but then withdrawn.
Georgia

1.Bill to allow death sentence with non-unanimous jury

2.Bill to allow prosecutors to seek life-without-parole sentences independently from seeking the death penalty

3. Bill to impose a 2-yr. moratorium on executions (SB175)

4. Bil to lower the standard of proof of "mental retardation" in capital cases to preponderance of the evidence

 

#1. NOT PASSED - SESSION ENDED

#2. Unanimously passed senate; passed House Judic. Com.; bill sent back to Com. UNANIMOUSLY PASSED HOUSE 164-0;  GOV. SIGNED (as of April 30).

#3.NOT PASSED - SESSION ENDED

#4. BILL DIED IN SENATE COM (along with bills to shorten habeas appeals process)

 

Idaho

Bill to conform state's lethal injection process to that in Kentucky as approved by the US Sup. Ct. (HB 107); Bill also removes the firing squad as alternative method of execution.

PASSED SENATE 33-2; PASSED HOUSE; ENACTED INTO LAW 4/01/09.  EFFECTIVE 7/1/09.
Illinois* Bill to abolish the death penalty Passed House Com. 4-3 on Mar. 5; Re-referred to House Rules Committee 4/3/09.
Indiana

Bill to exempt the severely mentally ill from death penalty

 

 Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee 1/07/09
Kansas*

Bill to abolish the death penalty in future cases

 

 Sen. Judic. Com. hearing Feb. 26-27; vote expected March 4

March 5: Passed Sen. Jud. Com., 6-5 (an earlier vote indicated the bill would be sent to an interim study committee, thereby ending consideration for this term, but this was reversed)

Hearing in Senate on Mar. 16 

SENATE VOTED TO RETURN ABOLITION BILL FOR FURTHER STUDY, ENDING POSSIBILITY OF PASSAGE THIS SESSION

Louisana Bill to change aggravating factors to include serial killers Passed House committee unanimously
Maryland*

Bill to abolish death penalty introduced by governor

 

Sen. Judic. Proceedings hearing on Feb. 18

Lost in Sen. Judic. Com. 5-5 on Feb. 27, but may go to entire senate anyhow

Bill went to full Sen. on Mar. 3; after an amendment was approved allowing a limited death penalty, Senate adjourned for the day

Mar. 4-Senate passed amendment requiring DNA, biological evidence, or video evidence of crime or of a voluntary confession for a capital conviction. Mar. 5: Amended bill passed by Senate

REPEAL REJECTED IN SENATE THROUGH AMENDMENT; SESSION ENDED.

House Judiciary Com. passed reform bill 14-7 on Mar. 20 

REFORM BILL PASSED HOUSE 87-52; GOVERNOR SIGNED MAY 7.

Massachusetts Bill to restore the death penalty proposed in Nov. BILL RULED OUT OF ORDER IN NOV.
Missouri

Bill to impose a 2-yr. moratorium on executions and appoint a study commission (HB 484)

 

 The bill was passed by the House without a moratorium.  It appears that the Senate did not vote on the study bill.
Montana*

Bill to abolish the death penalty, including for current death row inmates (SB236)

 

Hearing on Feb. 4 in Senate Judiciary Com.

Passed Sen. Judic. Com.; Passed Senate 27-23

House Judiciary Com. hearing Mar. 25; vote likely Mar. 30

MOTION TO TABLE (DEFEAT) REPEAL BILL PASSED 11-7 ON MAR. 30

Nebraska*

1.Bill to establish lethal injection as method of execution (LB 36); may include amendments to restrict death penalty prosecutions

2.Bill to abolish death penalty (LB 306)

 

Hearings Jan. 29

1. Failed to pass out of committee; may still get to floor (unicameral legislature)

 Both bills passed out of committee but abolition bill unlikely to come up for a vote since not given priority status (April 16)

1. LETHAL INJECTION APPROVED BY LEGISLATURE ON MAY 28 BY VOTE OF 34-12. GOV. SIGNED THE BILL. (Neb.'s only method, electrocution, had been held unconstitl. in 2008.)

Nevada

Bill to impose 2 year moratorium on executions while the death penalty is studied (Assembly Bill #190)

 

 Bill amended to exclude moratorium but allow a study of costs.  Passed as amended in Assembly 30-12 (as of April 16)

BILL WAS TABLED (REJECTED) FOR THIS SESSION.

New Hampshire*

(see more on NH's Commission below)**

1.Bill to abolish death penalty (#556)
2.Bill to appoint a study commission (#520)
3.Bill to change method of execution to firing squad
4. Bill to expand death penalty by adding crime of murder with a firearm

5. Bill to protect rights of victims' family members, regardless of their position on the death penalty (HB370)

 

 Five death penalty hearings on Feb. 10

#1. Passed House of Representatives 193-174 (Mar. 24); Gov. said he would veto bill. Senate Judic. Com. amended bill to study, but not abolish, the death penalty - passed 3-2.

#2. Passed Hse. Crim. Justice & Public Saftey Com. 15-1; Passed in the House 220-92; Passed Senate.  Governor signed the bill establishing a 22-member commission that will finish its report by Dec. 1, 2010.

#5. Passed House of Rep. 213-114. Bill 312 protecting rights of victims' family members regardless of their views on the death penalty passed legislature Aug. 7, 2009; effective Oct. 6, 2009.

 

New Mexico*

1.Bill to abolish the death penalty (SB 285)

2.Bills to provide services and protections to victims and family members

 

1.Passed House Consumer & Public Affairs Com.

-Passed House Judic. Com. 8-5

-Passed House 40-28

-Passed Sen. Public Affairs Com. 5-2

-Passed Sen. Judic. Com. 6-5 (Mar. 9)

-Full Senate vote expected Mar. 13 or 14

-PASSED SENATE 24-18 ON MAR. 13

-ABOLITION SIGNED BY THE GOV. ON MAR. 18-the law applies to future cases.  Two people remain on state's death row.  Also, the death penalty may be sought for crimes committed prior to the law's effective date.  The New Mexico Supreme Court adopted a two-jury rule in Dec.'09.  The defense has the option of the following new system: guilt is determined by a non-death qualified jury.  If guilty, the sentence is then determined by a new jury that is death qualified.

2.BILLS FOR INCREASED VICTIM SERVICES DEFEATED

North Carolina

1.Bill to exempt the severely mentally ill from death penalty

2.Racial Justice Act (HB 472/SB 461)

3. Bill to exempt medical professionals from sanction for participating in executions 

4. Bill to require proportionality review of death sentences (HB 123)

#1. Passed House Judic. Com.; passed House Appropriations Com. (5-4) July 22.

#2. RJA: Passed House Judiciary Committee; passed Senate Judiciary Com. (May 12)

Passed Senate on initial vote with an amendment that the Council of State does not have to approve lethal injectiion protocols (the effect of the amendment could be to remove lethal injection protocols from the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act, a controversy that has slowed executions).  Passed Senate (36-10) with an additionnal provision that doctors not be punished for participating in executions.

Passed House Ways & Means Com. 7-5. Passed House on 2d reading on July 13. PASSED ON 3RD READING 61-53 ON JULY 15. MUST BE RECONCILED WITH SENATE VERSION.

RJA PASSED SENATE WITHOUT CONDITIONS ON AUG. 5; GOV.  SIGNED.

Oregon Bill to make prosecution of capital cases more uniform around the state in terms of aggravating factors and resources for the defense  
Pennsylvania Bill to provide pre-trial procedures for determining "mental retardation" in capital cases (S.628) Passed Senate in July by vote of 45-2.
South Carolina

Bill to forbid identifying members of the execution team or penalizing anyone for participation in a state execution

 

 Referred to House Committee on Judiciary 3/26/09
Tennessee

Reform bills to:

1. Require defense attorneys in capital cases to be highly qualified;

2. Mandate that defense attorneys have uniform access to evidence against their clients;

3. Require police officers to record all interrogations related to a homicide case;

4. Force the state to set realistic timetables for litigating capital cases so families are not revictimized by decades of appeals.

 

Bills followed recommendations of a study committee.

1. SB 1679 - Referred to subcommittee within Senate Government Operations Committee 4/01/09
2. SB 1402 - Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee 2/18/09
3. SB 0261 - Referred to subcommittee within Senate Judiciary Committee 5/06/09
4. SB 0260 - House version passed 97-0 5/26/09; Placed on Senate Calendar for debate 6/02/09

Texas*

1.Bill to abolish the death penalty (Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, sponsor) (HB682)

2.Bill to eliminate death penalty under the Law of Parties for those who did not directly murder victim (Rep. Harold Dutton)

3. Bill to allow defendant to appear before Pardons & Paroles Board for clemency hearing

4. Bill to allow governor to grant more than one 30-day reprieve of a death sentence

5. Bill to provide pre-trial determination of "mental retardation" in a capital case (HB 1152)

6. Bill to create a new office to assist in providing qualified attorneys for some parts of death penalty appeals.

 

1. Hearing in Capital Punishment Subcom. of House Jurisprudence Com. Mar. 12

 2. Passed House, but amended in Senate to require separate trials for co-defendants if one defendant did not participate in killing the victim but was convicted under the law of parties.  Death penalty would still be allowed. BILL DEFEATED.

3. HB 1149 - Passed Corrections Committee and sent to calendars 5/01/09

4. HB 1148 - Passed House 4/22/09; Placed on Senate intent calendar 5/07/09, but not again placed on 5/15/2009

5. HB 1152 - Passed Criminal Jurisprudence Committee and sent to calendars 4/28/09.

6. PASSED; SENT TO GOV.; SIGNED.

Utah

Proposed constitutional amendment to restrict post-conviction appeals (SJR 14)

 

Passed Sen. Judic. Com.; passed senate 23-6

DEFEATED IN HOUSE (Mar. 12)

 

Virginia

1.Bill to expand death penalty to include non-triggerman

2. Bill to expand death penalty to include fire marshalls among victims whose death would make death penalty possible

3. Bill to expand death penalty to include murder of auxilliary police officer

 

 

1. Passed Senate 24-16, short of 2/3 needed to override a veto. PASSED HOUSE. VETOED BY GOVERNOR ON MAR. 27; VETO UPHELD

2. Passed Senate. PASSED HOUSE. VETOED BY GOVERNOR ON MAR. 27; VETO UPHELD

3. Passed Senate 33-6. PASSED HOUSE. VETOED BY GOVERNOR ON MAR. 27; VETO UPHELD

Washington*

Bill to abolish the death penalty

 

 Referred to Senate Committee on Judiciary 2/10/09
West Virginia Bill to reinstate the death penalty An effort to bypass committee consideration failed by floor vote in the House.
Federal*

1.Bill to abolish federal death penalty (S.650)

2. Amendments to the Matthew Shephard Hate Crimes Prevention Act (S.909) would make some hate crimes punishable by death

3. H. R. 3986 introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson: To amend title 28, United States Code, to clarify the availability of Federal
habeas corpus relief for a person who is sentenced to death though actually
innocent.

1. Introduced by Sen. Russ Feingold (WI)

2. Amendments passed by Senate on July 20 as part of the Defense Appropriation Act. Death Penalty amendments withdrawn.  Hate Crimes bill passed and was signed by the President.