Testimony in the Florida Senate Criminal Justice Committee in January 2016 on a bill to redress con­sti­tu­tion­al infir­mi­ties in the state’s death-penal­ty statute.


1. Bill with 8 senate co-sponsors would establish an Innocence Inquiry Commission and put a hold on executions for about 1 year.

1. PASSED Senate Judiciary Com. unanimously. Only capital cases would be subject to review. On April 7, PASSED full Senate 20-6



1. A proposed initiative would curtail the appeals process and bypass public review of the execution protocol. Death Penalty Reform and Savings Act of 2016.

2. Initiative on repealing the death penalty, including for those currently on death row. The Justice That Works Act of 2016.

1. Appeared on the ballot in November 2016 as Proposition 66 and approved by voters. Implementation on hold pending challenge in California Supreme Court.

2. Appeared on the ballot in November 2016 as Proposition 62 and defeated by voters.


1. SB 64 would allow death sentences with non-unanimous juries if the vote is at least 9-3. Bill amended in committee to allow death sentence with a vote of at least 11-1.

2. A House bill would allow a 2d sentencing jury if the first one is not unanimous.

Republican proposals in a largely Democrat legislature.

1. After a hearing in Sen. Judic. Com. on Feb. 10, bill DEFEATED 3-2.

2. DEFEATED 6-3 in House Com.


Bill to repeal the death penalty. SB 40. Repeal would not be retroactive to those currently on death row.

Bill voted out of House Judic. Com. for first time in recent years. DEFEATED 23-16 in House on Jan. 28. Bill had PASSED Senate and governor said he would sign it. The bill was slated for reconsideration by the House the week of March 7. Reconsideration was deferred pending decision by Delaware Supreme Court on constitutionality of the current death penalty statute. On August 2, the Delaware Supreme Court struck down the death penalty statute, and on August 15, the Attorney General announced he will not appeal the decision.


1. The U.S. Sup. Ct. found FL’s death sentencing scheme unconstitutional. Proposed legislative remedies include bills to ensure the jury makes a unanimous determination of at least one aggravating factor and to require a unanimous jury recommendation for a death sentence (SB 330 & SB 7068). HB157, identical to SB330, was introduced in the House.

2. HB7101 would require a unanimous jury determination that at least 1 aggravating factor exists. Judge may then impose death sentence if at least 9 of the 12 jurors recommend death penalty.

All versions of the bills remove from the trial court the authority to override jury recommendations of a life sentence.

At the time the Florida legislature considered these bills, the FL Sup. Ct. had granted a stay of a scheduled (Feb. 11) execution to consider the retroactive effect of the US Sup. Ct.’s decision in Hurst v. Florida, which had declared the state’s prior death sentencing procedures unconstitutional.

1. SB 7068 PASSED Senate Crim. Justice Com. 5-0 on Feb. 8 and was referred to the full Senate. (Read the Florida Senate Bill Analysis and Fiscal Impact Statement here.) The bill was ultimately tabled on March 2, and a companion bill (HB7101) conditioning imposition of a death sentence upon a jury vote of at least 10-2 in favor of death was passed. (See below.)

2. Original version of the bill, conditioning imposition of a death sentence upon a jury vote of at least 9-3 in favor of death, PASSED House Judiciary Committee 17-1 on Feb. 10 and was referred to the full House.

Compromise PASSED House 93-20 requiring 10-2 recommendation of a death sentence. Bill requires notice to defense of alleged aggravators, unanimous finding by jury of at least one aggravator, and at least a 10-2 vote for death as preconditions for the judge to impose a death sentence. (Read the House of Representatives Final Bill Analysis here.) Following House passage, the bill moved to the Senate for its consideration. Senate committee PASSED 12-6 a version of the House bill, requiring 10-2 jury recommendation for death.

On Mar. 2, the Senate, by votes of 22-18 and 23-17, DEFEATED two attempts to restore a unanimous-jury requirement for a death recommendation. which was in the original senate bill.

Compromise Bill PASSED Senate 35-5 on Mar. 3. Governor SIGNED bill into law on Mar. 7, effective with signing.

In October 2016, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in Perry v. State that the new death penalty statute violated the Sixth Amendment and the Florida state constitution and that the statute could not be applied to pending murder prosecutions. The Florida Attorney General’s office has sought clarification of the ruling with respect to future prosecutions.


Bill to repeal the death penalty introduced by bi-partisan sponsors, HB 2515. Repeal would not be retroactive.

Assigned to House Judiciary Committee, where it is unlikely to receive a hearing this year.


Bill to repeal state’s death penalty has been proposed by Sen. Gerald Neal. HB 203

Hearing scheduled in House Judic. Com. on Mar. 9. Bill was DEFEATED 9-8.


1. Bill to create a Capital Cost Commission to determine in advance of a capital prosecution whether sufficient funds are available to pursue a capital prosecution and, at the appeal and post-conviction stages, whether sufficient funds are available to proceed with a capital appeal or post-conviction proceeding. Absent certification of sufficient funding, a trial would proceed non-capitally, or on appeal, the sentence would be reduced to life imprisonment at hard labor without parole.

2. HB 818 would change the composition of the Louisiana Public Defender Board and require 75% of all funds in the restructure the Louisiana Public Defender Fund to be disbursed to district public defender offices, effectively limiting the amount of funds available for capital cases.

1. Referred to committee.

2. Referred to the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice.


1. Bill to impose secrecy regarding source of lethal injection drugs, names of employees, and family witnesses: SB 2237. Amended in House of Representatives to include option of execution by firing squad if lethal injection deemed too costly or unavailable.

2. Bill to expand death penalty to include those who kill certain public servants, such as first responders.

1. PASSED, as amended, by the Senate 32-18 on March 1, 2016. PASSED House on March 25, 79-40, with amendment. Both houses of the legislature approved a Conference Report on April 19, with the House voting 103-13 and the Senate voting 39-12. The Governor SIGNED the bill into law, May 3.


1. Rep. Kathy Swan (R) introduced a bill to repeal the state’s death penalty. Bill has 4 other Republican sponsors and one Democrat. Similar Senate Bill (SB 816).

2. Bill to add terrorism as an aggravating factor for eligibility for the death penalty.

3. Rule to require separate listing of execution expenses.

1. Introduced Jan. 7. Second reading Jan. 11. PASSED Sen. General Laws Com. in late January. Put on informal calendar—spelling likely defeat.

3. House Budget Com. APPROVED rule that would reveal payments for executions, such as the cost of drugs.


REFERENDUM on repeal that was passed in 2015 was scheduled for Nov. 2016, with repeal suspended until referendum.

Sufficient signatures were gathered to place referendum on ballot in Nov., and court challenges to referendum were dismissed. Voters approved referendum and overturned legislative repeal of death penalty.

New Hampshire*

1. Bill SB 463 would suspend the death penalty until there would be no doubt of defendant’s guilt.

2. HB 1552 would expand the death penalty to crimes of terrorism and murder to block a person’s exercise of civil rights.

1. Senate committee hearing conducted on Jan. 28. Vote in Senate on Mar. 3. Senate voted 12-12 on a bill to repeal the death penalty, thereby DEFEATING the measure. A bill to suspend the death penalty was tabled.

2. House Crim Jus & Public Safety Com recommended 10-4 to kill the bill. House vote later.

New Jersey

5 bills have been introduced in the Assembly and 3 in the Senate to restore the death penalty for a variety of homicides. They are:

A1220 and its identical companion bill S1701, which was introduced as A393 in the 2015-2015 legislative session and failed to pass.
A1325 and its identical companion bill S1447, which were introduced as A1532 and S1741 in the 2015-2015 legislative session and failed to pass.
A3279, also identical to S1447, which was introduced as A2429 in the 2015-2015 legislative session and failed to pass.
A4437 and its identical companion bill S2818.

None of the bills has advanced in committee.

New Mexico

Special Session H.B 7 would reinstate the death penalty for certain murders or felony murders including:

murder of “a peace officer who was acting in the lawful discharge of an official duty”;

murder of a victim “under the age of eighteen years”;

intentional murder occurring “in the commission of or attempt to commit kidnapping, criminal sexual contact of a minor or criminal sexual penetration”;

intentional murder committed “by the defendant while attempting to escape from a penal institution of New Mexico”;

intentional murder of “a person who was at the time incarcerated in or lawfully on the premises of a penal institution in New Mexico,” committed by a defendant “while incarcerated in a penal institution in New Mexico”;

murder for hire;

“murder of a witness to a crime or any person likely to become a witness to a crime, for the purpose of preventing report of the crime or testimony in any criminal proceeding or for retaliation for the victim having testified in any criminal proceeding.”

The bill was introduced in a Special Legislative Session in October 2016 and was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, with amendments. It was reported out of committee on October 5, 2016, referred to the full House under controversial circumstances, and considered at 3:00 a.m. on October 6, 2016 (the final day of the special session) without advance notice to the Democratic members of the State House.

The bill PASSED the full House on a straight party-line vote of 36-30.

The State Senate adjourned without considering the bill during the Special Session. The bill may still be considered by the Senate when it reconvenes in January 2017.


1. SB162 would exempt defendants with severe mental illness from the death penalty.

2. HB57 would expand the scope of Ohio’s death penalty statute to add as an aggravating circumstance that the murder “was a violation of division (A) of section 2903.01 of the Revised Code.” Unstated in the bill, 2903.01 applies whenever a “person shall purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the death of another or the unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy.”

3. HB 289 and SB 154 would abolish the death penalty

1. Was referred to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee on May 27, 2015. The committee conducted hearings on the bill on Jan. 27 and Feb 10, 2016.

2. HB57 was introduced on Feb. 11, 2015 and was referred to House Judiciary Committee. It PASSED the judiciary committee, with amendment, on June 17, 2015 on a party-line vote of 7-4 and PASSED the full House on Apr. 12, 2016 by a vote of 83-11.

The bill was referred to the State Criminal Justice Committee on Apr. 20, which held a hearing on the bill in May.

3. HB 289 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, and SB 154 was referred to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.


1. REFERENDUM: Joint Sen. Resolution 31 (passed in 2015) calls for a state constitutional amendment stating that the death penalty is in effect, that the method of execution can be changed, and that the death penalty is not cruel and unusual.

2. SB 884 would allow lethal injection drugs to be held at the prison.

1. Amendment appeared on the ballot in Nov. 2016 and was approved by voters.

2. PASSED Senate on Feb. 23 by vote of 46-0. PASSED House Appropriations Committee by vote of 20-1 on Mar. 30. PASSED full House by vote of 76-12 on Apr. 12. SIGNED INTO LAW by the Governor on Apr. 19.

South Carolina

S. 553 would provide secrecy surrounding lethal injection drugs. An alternative to this bill would allow use of nitrogen gas in executions if lethal injection was not possible.

Secrecy bill on hold.

South Dakota*

SB 94, introduced with 24 bi-partisan co-sponsors, would repeal death penalty.

Referred to the Senate State Affairs Committee. DEFEATED 7-2.


Senate Bill 2342, sponsored by Sen. Steve Dickerson, requires preservation of biological evidence (such as DNA) in capital cases until the convicted individual is executed or until the sentence is otherwise completed. The companion House Bill is HB2377.

Senate bill scheduled to be voted on by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Mar. 15. House version scheduled for a Criminal Justice Sub-committee vote on Mar. 15. PASSED both committees unanimously on Mar. 22. PASSED Senate 31-0 on Apr. 4. PASSED House 94-0 on Apr. 13. SIGNED INTO LAW.


1. HB 64 would abolish the death penalty.

2. HB 147 would prohibit seeking death penalty under the Texas law of parties if the defendant is found guilty based solely on the acts of another.

1. Introduced on 11/14/16. Not yet referred to committee.

2. Introduced on 11/14/16. Not yet referred to committee.


1. HB 136 would expand the death penalty to include offenses in which death occurs in the course of human trafficking and defendant acted with reckless indifference to the loss of life

2. SB. 189: Repeal of the death penalty, proposed by Sen. Steve Urquhart. Repeal would not affect those currently on death row.

1. Referred to the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee. PASSED panel 6-3 on Feb. 2 and referred to full House. PASSED House 44-28. Not acted on by the Senate during the legislative session, thereby DEFEATING it.

2. PASSED Senate Judiciary Com. 5-2. PASSED in Senate 15-12. PASSED House Judic. Com. 6-5 on Mar. 8. Full House vote by Mar. 10. Bill was pulled from consideration and not voted on during last day of the session, Mar. 10, thereby DEFEATING it.


1. Bill to prohibit secrecy of drug providers in lethal injections

2. HB 815 would require use of the electric chair if lethal injections cannot be carried out.

2a. Following legislative approval of the measure, the Governor substituted an amendment removing the electric chair provisions and replacing them with provisions permitting the Department of Corrections to specially contract with a compounding pharmacy for production of execution drugs and concealing the identity of the producer and/or supplier of the execution drugs.

1. DEFEATED 4-1 in subcommittee

2. PASSED 14-7 in House Courts of Justice Committee. PASSED by full House of Delegates 62-33 on Feb. 10. PASSED Senate Courts of Justice Com 9-5. PASSED by full Senate on Mar. 7, 22-7 with amendment requiring Director of Department of Corrections to have made reasonable effeorts to obtain execution drugs before declaring that they are unavailable. Because of differences with House versiion, bill must be conferenced and passed by both houses efore going to governor. The reconciled bill PASSED the legislature on Mar. 11 (House vote: 65-32; Senate vote: 22-17) and was sent to the governor.

2a. On Apr. 8, the Governor declined to sign the bill as adopted by the legislature and instead SUBSTITUTED AN AMENDMENT providing for execution secrecy. The House of Delegates and State Senate both CONCURRED with the Governor’s amendment on Apr, 20 and the BILL BECAME LAW.


Wyoming considering bill to repeal death penalty


States with bills to abolish the death penalty indicated with an *

Additional resources: The National Conference of State Legislatures webpage on recent enactments of death penalty laws (2015 through 2017).