Legislative hearings are usually not matters of life and death. But such was the case Wednesday in Olympia, when Washington legislators heard testimony on a bill to abolish the death penalty, reports the Oregonian. Dozens of people showed up for a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting to speak or listen to testimony on Sen. Debbie Regala’s bill. If the bill passes, Washington will follow in the steps of Oregon, where Gov. John Kitzhaber recently put a moratorium on the death penalty.
The legislators heard testimony from attorneys, professors, religious leaders and even a man who sat on death row for 23 years before Gov. Chris Gregoire granted him clemency. No one spoke against Regala’s bill. However, the prospects for Regala’s proposal seem dim this year, especially in a key House committee. Tacoma Rep. Steve Kirby says he will withhold his vote, effectively blocking it unless his fellow Democrats can persuade a Republican to join them.