Senate to debate abolishing the death penalty Friday

TOPEKA – The full Senate will have the chance to debate a measure that would abolish the death penalty on Friday.

Lawmakers this week have been pushing through a slew of bills this week. Saturday is the deadline for bills non in an exempt committee to pass out of their chamber of origin. After that point the bill is considered dead – although an idea can always be revived via amendment or the bill can be blessed by sending it temporarily to an exempt committee.

There had been some question if Senate Bill 375 would come up for floor debate and a vote in the Senate. The chamber will likely wrap up its work tomorrow.

Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, who schedules bill debates, told the chamber Thursday that the bill would be up for debate on the floor.

The proposal would abolish the death penalty for crimes committed on or after July 1, 2010 and replace the crime with aggravated murder. The new crime would come with a mandatory sentence of life without parole.

Supporters of capital punishment have argued that justice should not come with a price tag and the death penalty acts as a deterrent to violent crime.

Opponents have said that death penalty cases are more costly than other kinds of crimes and does little to deter crime. They have also argued that Kansas no has life without parole sentence which offers a valid alternative without the risk of potentially killing an innocent person.

Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, said Thursday that if the bill made to his desk he would consider it and hasn’t made any forgone conclusions.

Parkinson helped lead the effort to re institute the death penalty in Kansas when he served in the Kansas House of Representatives.

Kansas last executed someone in the 1960s.