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This past week a bill that would repeal the death penalty was defeated on the floor. LB 44, introduced by Senator Chambers, would have set a precedent of flagrant disregard for the voice of Nebraska voters if it would have passed.
In November of 2016, the people of Nebraska voted overwhelmingly in favor of the death penalty. 814,870 Nebraskas, or over two-thirds of our state’s registered voters, voted on Referendum 426. 494,151 Nebraskans voted in support of the repeal of the repeal. In other words, to keep the death penalty. The margin of victory was 173,432 votes. 92 of 93 counties voted to keep the death penalty. Nebraskans have spoken on this issue, and their response was decisive.
The Supreme Court has ruled that the death penalty is constitutional. I understand that two well-informed people can come to different conclusions on the death penalty; however, this bill’s passage would have set a precedent of jeopardizing every successful ballot initiative in Nebraska based on the will of the Legislature.
Personally, I am in favor of the death penalty’s retention and spoke extensively against the bill. In addition, District 1 voted nearly 3:1 in favor of keeping the death penalty, so it was an honor to defend their vote on the floor.
Some senators asserted that the ballot language was far too confusing for the average Nebraskan to understand and likely influenced the result. I was quick to call out the ignorance of that statement. Yes, the ballot language of this initiative was confusing, but nearly 500,000 Nebraskans spoke loud and clear. Nebraskans were not confused when they voted to keep the death penalty.
LB 44 failed to advance on General File on a vote of 17-25, with several senators either absent at the time of the vote or “present, not voting.”
As always, I welcome your input on issues important to you. Follow along on my Facebook and Twitter pages, both entitled “Senator Julie Slama” for more updates, or contact me directly at Senator Julie Slama, District 1 State Capitol, PO Box 94604, Lincoln NE 68509-4604; telephone: 402-471-2733; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.