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Minutes for HB2282 - Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice

Short Title

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

Minutes Content for Tue, Feb 19, 2019

Natalie Scott gave an overview of HB2282.

Representative Owens had questions and comments.

Representative Mark Schreiber testified in support of HB2282. Representative Schreiber stated the belief that all life has value became a kind of milestone for me. (Attachment 1)

Representative Bill Sutton testified in support of HB2282. Representative Sutton stated given the legislative responsibility to identify cost savings, he fully expects repealing the death penalty to be part of the discussion. (Attachment 2)

Celeste Dixon testified in support of HB2282. Ms. Dixon believed grieving family members need understanding and a chance to grieve and she believed the death penalty complicates that. (Attachment 3)

Steven R. Becker testified in support of HB2282. Mr. Becker asked the question, "How can we impose the absolute certainly of death when we do not require the absolute certainly of guilt?". (Attachment 4)

Bill Rich testified in support of HB2282. Mr. Rich stated his comments focus on three additional concerns: (1) We have now learned, beyond reasonable doubt, that imperfections in our criminal justice process would eventually result in execution of innocent individuals; (2) Unavoidable delays attached to death penalty prosecution and review procedures prolong suffering rather than bringing closure for friends and relatives of murder victims; and (3) Costs of maintaining inmates on death row add to the burdens faced by the Kansas Department of Corrections as it struggles to maintain minimum standards. (Attachment 5)

Sister Therese Bangert testified in support of HB2282 on behalf of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. Sister Bangert expressed in the 31 year walk with this penalty and her 22 year walk as a police chaplain, she is even more convinced that the path to healing and wholeness and the GRACE GOD provides in abundance to all of us is not reflected in the death penalty. (Attachment 6)

Written testimony in support of HB2282 was submitted by John Shively, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth (Attachment 7); Chuck Weber; Kansas Catholic Conference (Attachment 8); Jennifer Roth, Kansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (Attachment 9); Bill Lucero (Attachment 10); William Loganbill (Attachment 11); Stanley Bohn (Attachment 12); Mary Head (Attachment 13); Floyd Bledsoe (Attachment 14); Michael Birzer (Attachment 15); Dalton Glasscock (Attachment 16); Libertarian Party of Kansas (Attachment 17); Ron Wurtz, KCADP (Attachment 18); Meryl Carver-Allmond (Attachment 19); Reverend Joanne Harader (Attachment 20); J. Nathan Rovenstine (Attachment 21); and Bishop Ruben Saenz, Jr. (Attachment 22).

Representatives Kuether, Carmichael, and Highberger had questions and comments.

Greg Smith, Special Deputy for Government Affairs, testified in opposition of HB2282 on behalf of the Johnson County Sheriff's Office. Deputy Smith conveyed if he was not testifying in opposition to this bill on behalf of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office he would be here testifying in opposition to it as Kelsey’s dad for Kelsey (Attachment 23).

Written testimony opposing HB2282 was submitted by Attorney General Derek Schmidt (Attachment 24) and Ed Klumpp, Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police, Kansas Sheriffs Association, and Kansas Peace Officers Association (Attachment 25).

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

Sister Therese Bangert requested of the Chairperson Jennings to add to the proponent written only testimonies from Carolyn Zimmerman (Attachment 26). The Committee received Zimmerman testimony on February 20th meeting to put in their files for HB2282.

Chairperson Jennings adjourned the meeting.