BILL OF THE WEEK: Senate Bill 1013

The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by state Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene), who carried the bill on the floor.WHAT PROBLEM IT SEEKS TO SOLVE:
Oregon courts continue sentencing people to death at great expense, yet none of the 30 people currently on death row is likely to be executed. Both Govs. John Kitzhaber and Kate Brown placed personal, unofficial moratoriums on executions, which many advocates and lawmakers believe are unjust and immoral.

Narrow the definition of crimes that qualify for the death penalty so as to greatly reduce the number of people who can be sentenced to death. Under the current version of the bill, the only people who could be sentenced to death are those who kill two or more people in a terrorist act; convicted murderers who kill in custody; and those who murder children under 14, or a police, corrections or parole officer.

The Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association; several nonprofits and current and former law school deans; and numerous Democratic lawmakers, most notably state Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland), who wants it so much he changed his vote on the public pension reform bill from no to yes, in exchange for a promise from Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) that SB 1013 would get a vote on the House floor.

Oregon Crime Victims United, the Oregon District Attorneys Association and some lawmakers, such as state Rep. Jeff Barker (D-Aloha), who believe that since the death penalty was approved by voters in 1984, only the voters should repeal it. “If the voters want the death penalty repealed,” Marion County deputy district attorney Katie Suver testified June 5, “let the voters tell the Legislature that is what they want.”