Tie Vote Stops Kansas Death Penalty Abolition Bill

February 19, 2010

With a tie vote, the Kansas Senate today failed to pass SB 375, a bill which would have abolished that state’s death penalty.  The Kansas Senate consists of 31 Republicans and 9 Democrats, and the vote was 20-20.

Extensive debates like the one today have been taking place in state legislatures across the country, reflecting a growing national concern that the death penalty is ineffective and unnecessary, and that there are better ways to tackle the problem of violent crime.  Kansas has not had an execution since 1965, and has less than a dozen people on death row.  On Thursday, Governor Mark Parkinson had said

“I haven’t said I would never sign a repeal. I said it’s unlikely. If that bill hit my desk, I assure you I would spend a significant amount of time really researching whether the death penalty made sense.”

Now it appears he will not have to do that research, at least not this year.  But the result of today’s debate underscored that support for capital punishment is increasingly precarious, with a growing number of conservatives voting to abandon the death penalty alongside their more liberal colleagues.