Just weeks after legislators in Wyoming and South Dakota passed legislation to ban the execution of juvenile offenders, lawmakers in Florida are on a similar course that may send a bill that eliminates the death penalty for those under the age of 18 to Governor Jeb Bush for signature into law. Members of the Florida Senate passed the juvenile death penalty ban by a vote of 26-12, and the House is expected to take up the measure later this week. Florida House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, who had been opposed to raising the minimum the age for capital offenders, has indicated that he will allow House members to “vote their conscience” when considering the bill. The legislation’s House sponsor, Representative Phillip Brutus of Miami, noted, “I think it will be a pretty strong vote. To invoke the harshest penalty of all – which is death – when somebody is 17 years old is wrong.” If the Florida legislature passes and Governor Bush signs the bill into law, the state will become the 20th in the nation to ban the practice and the third state to enact this policy in 2004. New Hampshire’s House and Senate overwhelmingly voted for a similar bill earlier this month, but Governor Craig Benson has vowed to veto the legislation. The Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of the juvenile death penalty this fall when it hears arguments in Roper v. Simmons. (Various news sources including the Sun-Sentinel of Florida and The Union Leader of New Hampshire, April 27, 2004). See Juvenile Death Penalty.