Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to Call a Special Session for September to Fix Death-Penalty Bill

Senate Bill 1013 limited when the death penalty can be applied. Victims groups and prosecutors are concerned it may retroactively apply to previous sentences.

Gov. Kate Brown says she'll call a special session of the legislature over the narrow issue of death penalty sentencing.

That's assuming legislators come up with a fix to make sure the limits placed on the death penalty aren't retroactive.

Democratic majorities in the legislature passed and Brown signed Senate Bill 1013, which narrowed how prosecutors could apply the death penalty. But after Brown signed the bill, Oregon's solicitor general weighed in to say the bill could be retroactive and therefore apply to those already convicted of aggravated murder.

Victims groups and district attorneys have called for fixing that piece of the bill.

"Based on the clarification by the Oregon Department of Justice, it is clear there is a misunderstanding about the intent of the words in Senate Bill 1013," says Brown in a statement. "Given the seriousness of the issues that we're dealing with and the impact on victims and their families, I think it's critically important that there be clarity about the law."

It's not yet clear how the bill will be fixed. Brown is leaving that to Sen. Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene), a key backer of the bill, who supports the call for a special session.

"I will support a statutory fix to address the misunderstanding regarding the bill's retroactivity," says Brown in a statement.

"I've spoken to Senator Prozanski and I'm willing to support a special session. I expect legislators to work with stakeholders and legislators across the aisle and around the state to craft the language and get the votes. Should that be accomplished, I will call a special session before the end of September, and the session needs to be focused on this narrow issue."

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