Colorado — The House Judiciary committee voted 6-3 on February 18 to approve SB 20-100, a bill that would prospectively repeal the death penalty in Colorado. The bill, which has already passed the state senate, is expected to receive a vote in the full House early in the week. Governor Jared Polis has indicated that he will sign the bill if it passes.

South Dakota — The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-3 on February 20 to defeat SB 64, which, when introduced, would have prohibited the use of the death penalty against individuals with severe mental illness. Before it was defeated, the bill had been amended twice in committee to eliminate the prohibition against capital punishment for the severely mentally ill and replace it with an enumerated list of mitigating factors that jurors could consider as a basis to impose a life sentence instead of the death penalty.

Alabama — A bill that would shorten the state appeals process by providing less appellate review was introduced on February 18 and referred to the House Judiciary Committee. HB 275 would vest exclusive jurisdiction over state capital appeals in the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals and eliminate the currently existing discretionary review of the criminal court’s decisions by the Alabama Supreme Court. The bill would further attempt to expedite appellate decisions in capital cases by granting priority scheduling status to capital appeals.

For more on 2020 death-penalty legislation, see our Recent Legislative Activity webpage.