Recent Legislative Activity

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



 
Legislative News (articles) - Current Year
 
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Legislation - 2016
 
Legislation - Previous Years

2016 - Proposed legislation
States with bills to abolish death penalty indicated with *

State Description Status

Alabama

1. Bill with 8 senate co-sponsors would establish an Innocence Inquiry Commission and put a hold on executions for about 1 year.

2. HB 379 would allow secrecy for those participating in executions and for the sources of lethal injection drugs.

1. PASSED Senate Judiciary Com. unanimously. Only capital cases would be subject to review. On April 7, PASSED full Senate 20-6

2. PASSED House on March 15 (77-19).

California*

INITIATIVES:
1. A proposed initiative would curtail the appeals process and bypass public review of the execution protocol. Death Penalty Reform and Savings Act of 2016.
2. Initiative on repealing the death penalty, including for those currently on death row. The Justice That Works Act of 2016.

1. Signatures must be gathered to be eligible for Nov. 2016 ballot.

2. Signatures must be gathered to be eligible for Nov. 2016 ballot.

Colorado

1. SB 64 would allow death sentences with non-unanimous juries if the vote is at least 9-3. Bill amended in committee to allow death sentence with a vote of at least 11-1.

2. A House bill would allow a 2d sentencing jury if the first one is not unanimous.

Republican proposals in a largely Democrat legislature.

1. After a hearing in Sen. Judic. Com. on Feb. 10, bill DEFEATED 3-2.

2. DEFEATED 6-3 in House Com.

Delaware*

Bill to repeal the death penalty. SB 40. Repeal would not be retroactive to those currently on death row. Bill voted out of House Judic. Com. for first time in recent years. DEFEATED 23-16 in House on Jan. 28. Bill had PASSED Senate and governor said he would sign it. The bill was slated for reconsideration by the House the week of March 7. Reconsideration has been deferred pending decision by Delaware Supreme Court on constitutionality of the current death penalty statute.

Florida

1. The U.S. Sup. Ct. found FL's death sentencing scheme unconstitutional. Proposed legislative remedies include bills to ensure the jury makes a unanimous determination of at least one aggravating factor and to require a unanimous jury recommendation for a death sentence (SB 330 & SB 7068). HB157, identical to SB330, was introduced in the House. 

2. HB7101 would require a unanimous jury determination that at least 1 aggravating factor exists. Judge may then impose death sentence if at least 9 of the 12 jurors recommend death penalty.

The retroactive effect of the US Sup. Ct.'s decision is being reviewed by the FL Sup. Ct., which granted a stay in a scheduled (Feb. 11) execution.

1. SB 7068 PASSED Senate Crim. Justice Com. 5-0 on Feb. 8 and was referred to the full Senate. (Read the Florida Senate Bill Analysis and Fiscal Impact Statement here.) The bill was ultimately tabled on March 2, and a companion bill (HB7101) conditioning imposition of a death sentence upon a jury vote of at least 10-2 in favor of death was passed. (See below.)

2. Original version of the bill, conditioning imposition of a death sentence upon a jury vote of at least 9-3 in favor of death, PASSED House Judiciary Committee 17-1 on Feb. 10 and was referred to the full House.

Compromise PASSED House 93-20 requiring 10-2 recommendation of a death sentence. Bill requires notice to defense of alleged aggravators, unanimous finding by jury of at least one aggravator, and at least a 10-2 vote for death as preconditions for the judge to impose a death sentence. (Read the House of Representatives Final Bill Analysis here.) Following House passage, the bill moved to the Senate for its consideration. Senate committee PASSED 12-6 a version of the House bill, requiring 10-2 jury recommendation for death. 

On Mar. 2, the Senate, by votes of 22-18 and 23-17, DEFEATED two attempts to restore a unanimous-jury requirement for a death recommendation. which was in the original senate bill.

Compromise Bill PASSED Senate 35-5 on Mar. 3. Governor SIGNED bill into law on Mar. 7, effective with signing.

Kansas*

Bill to repeal the death penalty introduced by bi-partisan sponsors, HB 2515. Repeal would not be retroactive. Assigned to House Judiciary Committee, where it is unlikely to receive a hearing this year.

Kentucky*

Bill to repeal state's death penalty has been proposed by Sen. Gerald Neal. HB 203

Hearing scheduled in House Judic. Com. on Mar. 9. Bill was DEFEATED 9-8.

Louisiana

1. Bill to create a Capital Cost Commission to determine in advance of a capital prosecution whether sufficient funds are available to pursue a capital prosecution and, at the appeal and post-conviction stages, whether sufficient funds are available to proceed with a capital appeal or post-conviction proceeding. Absent certification of sufficient funding, a trial would proceed non-capitally, or on appeal, the sentence would be reduced to life imprisonment at hard labor without parole.

2. HB 818 would change the composition of the Louisiana Public Defender Board and require 75% of all funds in the restructure the Louisiana Public Defender Fund to be disbursed to district public defender offices, effectively limiting the amount of funds available for capital cases.

1. Referred to committee.

2. Referred to the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice.

Mississippi

1. Bill to impose secrecy regarding source of lethal injection drugs, names of employees, and family witnesses:  SB 2237. Amended in House of Representatives to include option of execution by firing squad if lethal injection deemed too costly or unavailable. 

2. Bill to expand death penalty to include those who kill certain public servants, such as first responders.

1. PASSED Senate 32-18. PASSED House 80-39, as amended, on Mar. 25 and returned to the Senate for further consideration.

2. PASSED House on Mar. 8.

Missouri*

1. Rep. Kathy Swan (R) introduced a bill to repeal the state's death penalty. Bill has 4 other Republican sponsors and one Democrat. Similar Senate Bill (SB 816).

2. Bill to add terrorism as an aggravating factor for eligibility for the death penalty.

3. Rule to require separate listing of execution expenses.

1. Introduced Jan. 7. Second reading Jan. 11. PASSED Sen. General Laws Com. in late January. Put on informal calendar--spelling likely defeat. 

3. House Budget Com. APPROVED rule that would reveal payments for executions, such as the cost of drugs.

Nebraska

REFERENDUM on repeal that was passed in 2015 is scheduled for Nov. 2016. Repeal suspended until referendum. Sufficient signatures have been gathered to place referendum on ballot in Nov., and court challenges to referendum have been dismissed.

New Hampshire*

1. Bill SB 463 would suspend the death penalty until there would be no doubt of defendant's guilt. 

2. HB 1552 would expand the death penalty to crimes of terrorism and murder to block a person's exercise of civil rights.

1. Senate committee hearing conducted on Jan. 28. Vote in Senate on Mar. 3. Senate voted 12-12 on a bill to repeal the death penalty, thereby DEFEATING the measure. A bill to suspend the death penalty was tabled.

2. House Crim Jus & Public Safety Com recommended 10-4 to kill the bill. House vote later.

Ohio

1. SB162 would exempt defendants with severe mental illness from the death penalty.

2. HB57 would expand the scope of Ohio's death penalty statute to add as an aggravating circumstance that the murder "was a violation of division (A) of section 2903.01 of the Revised Code." Unstated in the bill, 2903.01 applies whenever a "person shall purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the death of another or the unlawful termination of another's pregnancy."

1. Was referred to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee on May 27, 2015. The committee conducted hearings on the bill on Jan. 27 and Feb 10, 2016.

2. HB57 was introduced on Feb. 11, 2015 and was referred to House Judiciary Committee. It PASSED the judiciary committee, with amendment, on June 17, 2015 on a party-line vote of 7-4 and PASSED the full House on Apr. 12, 2016 by a vote of 83-11.  

The bill was referred to the State Criminal Justice Committee on Apr. 20, which held a hearing on the bill in May.

Oklahoma

1. REFERENDUM: Joint Sen. Resolution 31 (passed in 2015) calls for 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.

2. SB 884 would allow lethal injection drugs to be held at the prison.

1. Amendment will be on the ballot in Nov. 2016.

2. PASSED Senate on Feb. 23 by vote of 46-0. PASSED House Appropriations Committee by vote of 20-1 on Mar. 30. PASSED full House by vote of 76-12 on Apr. 12. SIGNED INTO LAW by the Governor on Apr. 19.

South Carolina

S. 553 would provide secrecy surrounding lethal injection drugs. An alternative to this bill would allow use of nitrogen gas in executions if lethal injection was not possible. Secrecy bill on hold.

South Dakota*

SB 94, introduced with 24 bi-partisan co-sponsors, would repeal death penalty. Referred to the Senate State Affairs Committee. DEFEATED 7-2. 

Tennessee

Senate Bill 2342, sponsored by Sen. Steve Dickerson, requires preservation of biological evidence (such as DNA) in capital cases until the convicted individual is executed or until the sentence is otherwise completed. The companion House Bill is HB2377. Senate bill scheduled to be voted on by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Mar. 15. House version scheduled for a Criminal Justice Sub-committee vote on Mar. 15. PASSED both committees unanimously on Mar. 22. PASSED Senate 31-0 on Apr. 4. PASSED House 94-0 on Apr. 13. See full legislative history.

Utah*

1. HB 136 would expand the death penalty to include offenses in which death occurs in the course of human trafficking and defendant acted with reckless indifference to the loss of life

2. SB. 189: Repeal of the death penalty, proposed by Sen. Steve Urquhart. Repeal would not affect those currently on death row.

1. Referred to the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee. PASSED panel 6-3 on Feb. 2 and referred to full House. PASSED House 44-28. Not acted on by the Senate during the legislative session, thereby DEFEATING it.

2. PASSED Senate Judiciary Com. 5-2. PASSED in Senate 15-12. PASSED House Judic. Com. 6-5 on Mar. 8. Full House vote by Mar. 10. Bill was pulled from consideration and not voted on during last day of the session, Mar. 10, thereby DEFEATING it.

Virginia

 

1. Bill to prohibit secrecy of drug providers in lethal injections

2. HB 815 would require use of the electric chair if lethal injections cannot be carried out.

2a. Following legislative approval of the measure, the Governor substituted an amendment removing the electric chair provisions and replacing them with provisions permitting the Department of Corrections to specially contract with a compounding pharmacy for production of execution drugs and concealing the identity of the producer and/or supplier of the execution drugs.

1. DEFEATED 4-1 in subcommittee

2. PASSED 14-7 in House Courts of Justice Committee. PASSED by full House of Delegates 62-33 on Feb. 10. PASSED Senate Courts of Justice Com 9-5. PASSED by full Senate on Mar. 7, 22-7 with amendment requiring Director of Department of Corrections to have made reasonable effeorts to obtain execution drugs before declaring that they are unavailableBecause of differences with House versiion, bill must be conferenced and passed by both houses efore going to governor. The reconciled bill PASSED the legislature on Mar. 11 (House vote: 65-32; Senate vote: 22-17) and was sent to the governor. 

2a. On Apr. 8, the Governor declined to sign the bill as adopted by the legislature and instead SUBSTITUTED AN AMENDMENT providing for execution secrecy. The House of Delegates and State Senate both CONCURRED with the Governor's amendment on Apr, 20 and the BILL BECAME LAW.

Wyoming*

Wyoming considering bill to repeal death penalty
DEFEATED in WY House.


Legislation - Previous Years:

2015 Legislation
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