Recent Legislative Activity

Important pieces of death penalty legislation that have recently passed or are currenty being considered. (DPIC welcomes additions and suggestions.)



 

Results of the New Jersey Assembly vote on December 13, 2007.
On third reading, abolition of death penalty was passed 44-36.
Legislative News (articles) - Current Year
 
Legislative News (articles) - 2014 2013  2012   2011   2010   2009  2008
 
Legislation - 2015
 
Legislation - Previous Years

2015 - Proposed legislation
States with bills to abolish death penalty indicated with *

State Description Status
Alabama Bill to reinstate the electric chair as a mandatory form of execution if lethal drugs are unavailable or if lethal injection is found unconstitutional; also would make the source of drugs in executions secret. Passed House Judic. Com.
PASSED  House 76-26.
Arkansas* 1. Bill to abolish the death penalty introduced
2. HB 1473 would allow the state to use the firing squad for executions
3. HB 1751 creates a new execution protocol allowing state to use either a single dose of a barbiturate or a 3-drug coctail; would provide anonymity to drug suppliers.
1. Passed House Judic. Com. by voice vote.
3. PASSED both Houses and signed by Gov. (4/15). Not clear that drugs are available.
Delaware* Bill to repeal death penalty for future offenses introducted the week of Mar. 16. PASSED Sen. Judic. Com. on Mar. 25. PASSED Senate 11-9 on April 2.
Tabled in House Com. on May 13; still subject to vote to circumvent com.
 
Florida 1. HB 4003 would require identification of those participating in executions
2. HB 139 would require a unanimous jury verdict for a death sentence; SB 664 would require unanimous jury to recommend a death sentence and require a jury finding on aggravating factors.
2. Passed Sen. Crim. Just. Com.5-0.
Georgia HB 71 would require explanation from the Pardons & Parole Board when it commutes a death sentence. It would also require notice to victim's family when a clemency hearing is requested Passed House. Passed Senate 55-0. SIGNED by Gov. Deal on May 1.
Idaho SB 1005: Bill would require secrecy for the source of lethal injection drugs and names of participants. Bill withdrawn
Illinois HB 4059 would reinstate the death penalty for selected offenses  
Indiana* 1. SB 136 would abolish the death penalty
2. Bill would allow death penalty for a murder with a beheading
3. SB 385 would allow death penalty for a murder connected to a school shooting

2. PASSED Senate 45-4

3. PASSED Senate.

Iowa S File 239 would reinstate the death penalty for certain kinds of murders Passage considered unlikely
Kansas* HB 2129 Bill to abolish the death penalty for future offenses introduced by Republican Rep. Steven Becker Bill relegated to committee without a hearing
Kentucky* 1. SCR-11 Resolution calling for a study of costs of the death penalty
2. Bi-partisan bill to abolish the death penalty (Sen. Gerald Neal (D) and Rep. David Floyd (R)
3. Sen. Robin Webb has introduced a bill to reform death penalty procedures, drawing from an ABA study of the state's practice.
 
Louisiana Legislatively appointed commission recommended modifying the method of execution to include death by nitrous gas. It also recommended a bill to make the sources of lethal drugs secret.  
Maine Bill to reinstate the death penalty for the murder of a child involving sexual abuse  
Maryland Bill to reinstate the death penalty for certain murders (Del. Pat McDonough)  
Michigan Bill to reinstate the death penalty for murder of law enforcement Passage unlikely; state has constitutional amendment prohibiting death penalty
Mississippi SB 2543, HB 1305 would require secrecy regarding sources of drugs and personnel Passed Senate Corrections Com. PASSED House 82-34.
Missouri* 1. SB 240 would authorize a cost study of the state's death penalty
2. HB 772 Bill to abolish the death penalty-Republican sponsor
 
Montana* HB 370 Bill to abolish the death penalty-Republican sponsor Passed Hse. Judic. Com. 11-10. DEFEATED in Hse. on a 50-50 tie vote.
Nebraska*
1. LB 268 would abolish the death penalty. The intent of the legislation is that it retroactively apply to those on death row, but the legislature may lack that power. (Sen. Ernie Chambers' bill)
2. Legislator has proposed introducing the firing squad as a backup method of execution. Inmate would be sedated first.
 
1. Legis. hearing held Mar. 4.
PASSED Judic. Com. on Mar. 9. Goes to unicameral legislature. Debate April 16. 33 votes need to get past expected fillibuster. PASSED on first vote 30-13. More votes required. PASSED on second vote 30-13. PASSED on final vote 32-15 on May 20. On May 26, Gov. vetoed the bill. Veto override PASSED 30-19 on May 27. Law becomes effective in 90 days.
North Carolina HB 774 "Restoring Proper Justice Act" would allow any medical professional (not just a doctor) to assist in carrying out an execution. An amendment was added to provide secrecy to those providing lethal injection drugs. Passed Hse Jud Com. PASSED House 84-33.
Ohio* 1. Bi-partisan bill to implement recommendations of the Ohio Supreme Court task force on the death penalty, including improvements in the post-conviction appeal process.
SB 67 is such a bill--Ohio Racial Justice Act, would allow use of race bias studies to show race played a primary role in death sentencing. Another part of the bill would exempt the seriously mentally ill from the death penalty: i.e., those who suffered from a serious mental illness that impaired their ability to “exercise rational judgment in relation to their conduct, conform their conduct to the requirements of the law, or appreciate the nature, consequences or wrongfulness of their conduct,”
2. SB 154 would abolish state's death penalty.
May be considered in July.
Oklahoma
1. Bill to use nitrogen gas for executions if lethal injection struck down or drugs are not available
2. Bill to allow firing squad if lethal injection is found unconstitutional.
3. Joint Sen. Resolution 31 would introduce a state constitutional amendment stating that the death penalty is in effect, that the method of execution can be changed, and that the death penalty is not cruel and unusual.

1. Passed Senate Judic. Com. 9-0. Passed House Com. PASSED House 85-10.
A similar version of the bill PASSED Sen. Judic. Com. 8-0 and being sent to full Sen.
PASSED Senate 41-0 on Apr.9. SIGNED BY GOV.

3. Being considered by House. PASSED legislature. Will be on the ballot in 2016.

Pennsylvania*
SB 493 would abolish the death penalty (Sen. Daylin Leach)
 
South Carolina 1. Bill to make the source of drugs used in executions secret. S.553.
2. H.4038 would allow use of firing squad for executions if lethal injection drugs cannot be obtained.
Passed Sen. Com. unanimously
DEFEATED in Sen. Corrections and Penology Committee by tie vote (Mar. 25). Could be resurrected.
South Dakota* 1. SB 121: Bill to repeal the death penalty
2. SB 122: Require a jury determination that defendant is a threat to community and a danger to those in prison for a death sentence
3. HB 1158: Allow victim statements at pre-sentencing hearings in capital cases, including statements that victim opposed death penalty
4. HB 1159: Institute a card allowing people to express opposition to the death penalty for the person charged in the event they are murdered
1. DEFEATED in Senate Affairs Com 7-2.
2. DEFEATED in Senate Affairs Com 7-2.
3. DEFEATED in House Com. 10-2.
4. DEFEATED in House Com. 10-2.
Texas* 1. HB 1527- Bill to abolish the death penalty (Reps. Harold Dutton and Jessica Farrar)   2. HB 1587- Bill to require the Department of Criminal Justice to disclose the drugs used in executions and their manufacturers
3. HB 3846, SB 1697 to allow the suppliers of lethal injection drugs to remain secret
4. SB 1071 would require prosecutors to give the defense advance notice of the setting of an execution date.
5. Bill would forbid use of informant testimony in death penalty cases if the witness stood to personally gain from the testimony.
3. Passed initial committee vote.
Passed Sen. on preliminary vote 23-8. PASSED House. Additional vote needed. PASSED legislature and signed by gov.
Utah 1.HB 11 - Bill to reinstate the firing squad as a method of execution
2. Bill to allow death penalty for sex traffickers (almost certainly unconstitutional)
1. Passed House Justice Com. 5-4. PASSED House 39-34.  PASSED Sen. Judic. Com 4-1.
PASSED Senate on Mar. 10; awaiting gov. signature
SIGNED by gov. on Mar. 23.
Virginia 1. SB 1393: Bill to require secrecy around the methods and carrying out of executions
2. SB 1296: restrict death penalty to only those cases with conclusive proof of guilt, such as with DNA evidence or a video
1. Passed Courts of Justice Com. PASSED Senate 23-14, with amendment. DEFEATED in House, 56-42.

2. Defeated in Committee 10-3
Washington* HB 1739: Bi-partisan bill to abolish the death penalty DEFEATED in Hse. Judic. Com.
Wyoming* 1. Bill to reinstate the firing squad as a method of execution
2. HB 97 would abolish the death penalty
1. PASSED Senate on Jan. 16. Passed House Judic. Com. 5-4.
BILL DEFEATED.

2. Defeated in Committee 5-4.
Federal
1. U.S. Rep. David Jolly (FL) will file legislation on Feb. 10 to make the murder of any police officer, firefighter, or first responder an aggravating factor in federal death penalty cases. Called the "Thin Blue Line Act," the bill would cover any law enforcement officer killed in federal jurisdiction, such as working on federal land or as part of a task force.
 
2. On June 25, Congressmen Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Scott (D-VA) introduced a comprehensive bill to reform the federal criminal justice system. It includes addressing over-federalization; criminal discovery reform; reauthorization of the Innocence Protection Act; and notification to defendants and providing remedies for forensic science and other forms of government misconduct and/or error. (Safe, Accountable, Fair, and Effective (SAFE) Justice Act of 2015).
 


Legislation - Previous Years:
2014 Legislation
2013 Legislation
2012 Legislation
2011 Legislation

 For Years Prior to 2007, see below:
 
Alabama Iowa New Hampshire Texas
Alaska Kansas New Jersey Utah
Arizona Kentucky New Mexico Vermont
Arkansas Louisiana New York Virginia
California Maine North Carolina Washington
Colorado Maryland North Dakota West Virginia
Connecticut Massachusetts Ohio Wisconsin
Delaware Michigan Oklahoma Wyoming
Florida Minnesota Oregon  
Georgia Mississippi Pennsylvania  
Hawaii Missouri Rhode Island  
Idaho Montana South Carolina  
Illinois Nebraska South Dakota  
Indiana Nevada Tennessee *Federal


Other Sources:

2008 Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment

For information on legislative changes proposed or enacted as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Ring v. Arizona, see DPIC's Web page, U.S. Supreme Court: Ring v. Arizona