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Nebraska Execution Moratorium OKd

From Associated Press

The Nebraska Legislature on Thursday became the first in the nation to pass a moratorium on executions.

The bill would ban executions for two years while a study is done to see if the death penalty is being applied fairly in the state. Death sentences could be imposed, but no executions would take place.

The one-chamber, nonpartisan Legislature approved the bill on a vote of 27-21, two more than the 25 needed to pass it.

Gov. Mike Johanns, a Republican and Catholic in his first year in office, must decide whether to maintain his longtime stance in favor of the death penalty and veto the bill or sign it into law and jostle his party’s platform. He could also let it become law automatically without his signature.

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Johanns said he will consider the measure over the next several days. He indicated he likely wouldn’t let it become law without his signature.

“I think I’m here to make difficult decisions,” he said. The governor reiterated his support of the death penalty.

The American Bar Assn. and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops have called for such moratoriums.

State GOP chief Chuck Sigerson has urged the governor to veto the measure.

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“Support of the death penalty is essential to the platform,” Sigerson said.

Three men have been put to death since Nebraska resumed executions in 1994 after a 35-year hiatus.


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