Thursday, November 08, 2007

And the sky did not fall

Looks like someone in Massachusetts could use a lesson in floor management/vote counting 101...

House rejects death penalty
Thursday, November 08, 2007

BOSTON - The state House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly yesterday against reinstating the death penalty in Massachusetts.

The 110-46 vote was by a larger margin than past years, and came after a little more than an hour of debate.

Gov. Deval L. Patrick had pledged to veto the bill if it were approved.

The bill defeated yesterday was almost identical to legislation filed by former Gov. W. Mitt Romney, who wanted to create a "gold standard"
for capital punishment.

Backers of the legislation said the state should have the right to use the death penalty in the most heinous cases, such as the killing of a police officer or a child. They said capital punishment can be an effective deterrent and can provide justice to society and families.

"There are some cases that are so heinous, it's an appropriate punishment," said Rep. Mary S. Rogeness, R-Longmeadow, who supported the bill.

Opponents said the death penalty is too expensive and immoral. They also questioned whether the death penalty can be administered without errors.

"I have always been opposed to the death penalty," said Rep. Sean F.
Curran, D-Springfield. "The justice system is made up of people, and sometimes people make mistakes. When you're talking about the death penalty, there is no room for error."

Rep. Angelo J. Puppolo Jr., D-Springfield, said he did his homework and then voted against the bill.

"I do oppose the death penalty," he said. "Until we can be 100-percent sure that we're not going to take the life of an innocent person, I don't feel comfortable supporting that."

In 1997, the House initially approved the death penalty in a dramatic
81-79 vote. But a House member switched his vote on the final tally that year, and the bill was defeated on a tie vote.

In 1999, the House voted 80-73 against the death penalty, and in 2001 the vote was 92-60 against it.

In 2005, the House voted 99-53 to defeat the death penalty when Romney was governor.

Last month, Patrick issued a statement that questioned why legislators conduct an "annual spectacle" of a death penalty hearing when there are more urgent concerns about public safety.

Kevin M. Burke, public safety secretary, read Patrick's statement during a legislative hearing on the death penalty.

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