Topeka — Legislation to repeal the Kansas death penalty may be dead for the 2010 legislative session.
Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, said Friday he didn't know when or if the bill, which was approved last month by the Senate Judiciary Committee, would be considered.
“Still weighing all the options,” Schmidt said. Asked if that includes not having a debate, Schmidt shrugged.
Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said it would be a shame if the legislation was killed without a full Senate debate.
Hensley said Schmidt wants to avoid making Republicans go on the record either for or against the death penalty.
But Schmidt, who tried to kill the repeal bill in committee, said it doesn’t serve any purpose to drag family members of murder victims through an emotional debate if the bill has little chance of succeeding in the House or with Gov. Mark Parkinson.
Bill Lucero, Kansas coordinator of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation and a member of the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty, however, didn’t agree.
He noted that Parkinson hasn’t shut the door to repeal of the death penalty and that many in the House want to discuss the issue. Parkinson, who helped draft Kansas’ current death penalty statute when he was a legislator, recently said he was open to looking at what the Legislature might do.
Lucero said he sympathizes with family members of murder victims who have testified in favor of the death penalty, but he said many family members of victims have remained silent. Lucero, whose father was murdered, has been lobbying for repeal of the death penalty for more than 30 years.
“The death penalty is not serving anybody any good so it is time for this debate to occur,” he said.
Kansas re-instated the death penalty in 1994, but has yet to execute anyone.