Iowa lawmakers won’t vote on death penalty this year

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Fifty-three years after a Democratic-controlled legislature and Democratic governor abolished the death penalty in Iowa, Republicans lack the support to bring back capital punishment, despite large majorities in both chambers. The sixth week of the Iowa legislative session is known as “funnel week,” because any non-appropriations bill that has not cleared at least one House or Senate committee by the end of the week will be dead for the year. Senate Judiciary Committee chair Brad Zaun told reporters on February 13, “I am going to go on record here on the death penalty: It is not going to be run; I am putting this to rest,” Zaun said. “I don’t want to say more than that. I have decided it is not going to be on the agenda on Wednesday or Thursday, so it will not be eligible to move on unless someone wants to vote on it and do an amendment, which I can’t control. But in Judiciary, it will not be run.” A five-member Judiciary subcommittee had approved Senate Study Bill 3134 the previous day, with Republicans Julian Garrett, Jason Schultz, and Dan Dawson voting to advance the bill, while Democrats Tony Bisignano and Rich Taylor voted no. Under the proposal introduced by Zaun, only defendants convicted of murdering a law enforcement officer or multiple offenses of kidnapping, rape, or murder of a child would be eligible for capital punishment. Those opposing the bill cited both practical and moral considerations, William Petroski reported for the Des Moines Register. Chief Deputy Iowa Attorney General Eric Tabor spoke against bill, providing a letter from Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller which said Iowa already has a de facto death sentence because a life sentence truly means life in prison without the possibility of parole. He noted that

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