Daily Archives: Feb. 19, 2010

UPDATE #4: Senators advance bill repealing death penalty

UPDATE #4: The Senate just took a voice vote that moves Senate Bill 375, which would abolish capital punishment in Kansas, to final action.

That will likely happen later today and will be a recorded roll call vote.  Procedural votes during the debate suggest that final passage is uncertain.

The Senate voted 20-20 on an amendment that would have stripped a provision from the bill that would have taken out the language eliminating the death penalty. A tie vote means the amendment failed.

Earlier, senators rejected a motion to table the bill on a vote of 18-21; it wasn’t a recorded vote. Opponents to the motion argued that setting the bill aside for later would just prolong the decision.

“It is time for us to finish this and take the vote, regardless of what the House might do or what the governor might do,” said Sen. Laura Kelly, R-Topeka.

The bill would replace the death penalty with the crime of aggravated murder, which carries an automatic sentence of life without parole. The change would apply to crimes committed on or after July 1, 2010.

Kansas reinstituted the death penalty in 1994; 10 men are on death row. The state has not executed anyone since the 1960s.

To listen to the debate live, click here.

UPDATE: Senate passes ban on texting while driving

TOPEKA – The Senate has given initial approval to a bill that would ban texting while driving.

Senate Bill 351 would make it illegal for a driver to send text messages or email. For a first time infraction, a driver would face a moving violation and a $100 fine.

Teen drivers are already barred from using cell phones while driving under the state’s graduated driver’s license law.

Some lawmakers have questioned how the bill could be enforced. How, for example, could an officer tell if someone was just turning a phone on or off versus sending a text message, asked Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook, R-Shawnee.

“I have people very close to me who drive on a regular basis and people who drive and text are very dangerous drivers on the road but unfortunately passing this law is just looking for more crime,” said Pilcher Cook. She said she would not vote for the bill.

Check back later for updates here.

Lawmakers are now debating a bill that would abolish the death penalty in Kansas.