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Minutes for HB2167 - Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice

Short Title

Abolishing the death penalty and creating the crime of aggravated murder.

Minutes Content for Mon, Feb 13, 2017

Natalie Scott gave an overview of HB2167. (Attachment 1)  (Attachment 2)

The Committee had questions and comments. 

Representative Bill Sutton testified in support of HB2167. Sutton stated he supported this bill because of his commitment to the conservative principles of fiscal responsibility and promoting a culture of life. (Attachment 3)

Roger Werholz, former Secretary of the Kansas Department of Corrections, testified in support of HB2167. Werholz strongly agreed with many of the arguments for abolition that are presented today, he spoke to the Committee about the costs, both monetary and in lost opportunities, that accompany the application of the death penalty. (Attachment 4)

Celeste Dixon, a murder victim's family member, testified in support of HB2167. Dixon stated that the death penalty was only the source of further pain, and that it fails to help murder victim's families rebuild their lives in the wake of tragedy. (Attachment 5)

Ron Wurtz testified in support of HB2167 on behalf of the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty. Wurtz stated given the consistent findings in Kansas and across other jurisdictions, the evidence is clear that the death penalty imposes significant costs to state and local budgets not incurred with life in prison without parole. (Attachment 6)

Monsignor Stuart Swetland, President of Donnelly College, testified in support of HB2167. Monsignor Swetland stated opposition to the death penalty in no way lessens one's awareness of the evil that some are capable of committing, it does say that there is a better way. (Attachment 7)

Teresa Briggs testified in support of HB2167 on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Kansas. Briggs stated there are two major reasons that the League of Women Voters of Kansas supports abolition: first, the cost to the state is higher than replacing the death penalty with life without parole sentences; the second major reason that the League is in opposition to the death penalty is there will always be the risk of executing an innocent person. (Attachment 8)

Pastor Ben Scott testified in support of HB2167 on behalf of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Scott stated he will provide written testimony.

Written testimony in support of HB2167 was submitted by the following:

Sister Terese Bangert (Attachment 10); Michael Birzer (Attachment 11); Floyd Bledsoe (Attachment 12); Stan Bohn (Attachment 13); Darryl Burton (Attachment 14); Tricia Bushnell (Attachment 15); Meryl Carver-Allmond (Attachment 16); Duane Friesen (Attachment 17); Dalton Glassrock (Attachment 18); Reverend Joanna Harader (Attachment 19); Mary Head (Attachment 20); Rob Hodgkinson (Attachment 21); David Kimmi, Gene Kimmi, Rita Boller, and Tony Kimmi (Attachment 22); Wilma Loganbill (Attachment 23); Eddie Lowery (Attachment 24); Bill Lucero (Attachment 25); Paige Nichols (Attachment 26); Reverend Nathan Rovenstine (Attachment 27); Reverend Jason Rowinski (Attachment 28);Bishop Ruben Saenz, Jr (Attachment 29; Kelly Schuck (Attachment 30); and Carolyn Saenz Zimmerman (Attachment 31).

The Committee had questions and comments.

Written testimony in a neutral position of HB2167 was submitted by Kim Parker on behalf of Kansas County and District Attorneys Association. (Attachment 32)

Written only testimony in opposition of HB2167 was submitted by Attorney General Derek Schmidt (Attachment 33); Larry Heyka (Attachment 34); and Amy James. (Attachment 35)

Chairperson Jennings called for final questions from the Committee and then closed the hearing.

Chairperson Jennings adjourned the meeting.