Olympia: Death penalty in the docket this week

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The Capitol Dome

The state's death penalty goes on trial again Wednesday.

That's when the House Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on a bill by Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, to repeal the death penalty in Washington. Carlyle introduces this bill almost annually, and it usually dies in committee.

Washington is roughly one year into a moratorium on state executions declared by Gov. Jay Inslee in February 2014. That moratorium lasts as long as Inslee is governor. Nine men have been sentenced to death.

Last year, Inslee said 32 people have been sentenced to death in Washington since 1981. One had been freed and 18 had their sentences converted to life in prison. "When the majority of death penalty sentences lead to reversal, the entire system itself must be called into question," he said in February 2014.

Costs were another factor his decision. "Studies have shown that a death penalty case from start to finish is more expensive than keeping someone in prison for the rest of their lives," he said. In his bill, Carlyle also cites the high costs of seeking the death penalty and going through the appeals process.

Other highlights of the Legislature’s schedule for the coming week:

Monday will see a House Education Committee hearing on a bill by Rep. Mia Gregerson, D-SeaTac, to change the state's 60 percent threshold for passing a school bond to a simple majority. This would ease the difficulty of passing a school bond ballot.

Also on Monday, four anti-prostitution bills by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, and Sen. Steve O'Ban, R-Tacoma, will be the subject of a hearing before the Senate Law & Justice Committee. The bills cover confiscating cars and other items owned by persons patronizing prostitutes, tracking human trafficking, requiring the posting of human trafficking information in public restrooms, and setting up a state clearinghouse on human trafficking information.

On Tuesday, the House Public Safety committee will hold a hearing on a bill by Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo to make it illegal to sell human remains. Meanwhile, the House Business & Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on a bill by Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, to prevent music licensing agencies from improperly charging cover bands and the taverns that use them.

This week is also the final week for the House and Senate to work on policy-only bills in most policy committees. Any bill not heard in committee by the end of Friday is considered dead. Among the exemptions are for any bills that affect the 2015-2017 budget in any way.

Also, there are parliamentary ways to revive dead bills. The easiest way is to attach them as amendments to bills that are still alive.


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About the Authors & Contributors

John Stang

John Stang

John Stang is a freelance writer who often covers state government and the environment. He can be reached on email at johnstang_8@hotmail.com and on Twitter at @johnstang_8