Were Lawmakers Relieved the Death-Penalty Ban Died in Committee?

By Beacon Staff

James Conner raises the question over at Flathead Memo. Conner, who has argued against the death penalty since his days as a columnist at his college newspaper, predicts that Montana will eventually ban the practice. Until then, he writes:

I suspect that more than a few Democratic members of the House are relieved at not having to defend a vote to repeal the death penalty. Had SB-236 passed the Legislature, and been signed into law by Governor Schweitzer, all political hell would have broken loose, with a divisive ballot initiative to reinstate the penalty of state administered homicide a certainty.

Over at Left in the West, Jay Stevens is equally critical of the House Judiciary Committee, which voted 10-8 to kill the legislation rather than send it to the House floor, even though the bill had already passed the Republican-controlled Senate. From Stevens:

All I can think is that this vote was gutless. Couldn’t the committee members have let the whole body vote on the bill? I mean…this issue hasn’t exactly been partisan. It’s bigger than that…. And no doubt there are a number of House representatives who are breathing sighs of relief that they won’t have to vote on the bill and choose between personal ethics and political expediency on an issue that literally is life-and-death.