SALEM, Ore. – One year ago this week, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber stunned the state and made international headlines when he issued a moratorium on the death penalty. He said he hoped his action would spur state lawmakers to a conversation about the death penalty. But so far, there's little momentum for the legislature to act on the issue.
Kitzhaber called Oregon's capital punishment system "compromised and inequitable." He said the ban on executions would last through the end of his time in office.
And he said "I call on the legislative branch to bring forth potential reforms to the 2013 legislature."
A view of Oregon's execution chamber. Image courtesy Oregon DOC
A full repeal of the death penalty would require approval by voters. Lawmakers could send such a measure to the ballot, or make changes to how the death penalty is applied.
But so far, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Floyd Prozanski says there's been relatively little discussion on the issue.
"At this point I know of no proposed legislation being introduced."
Prozanski's likely counterpart in the House for the 2013 session, Democrat Jeff Barker, also says he knows of no pending legislation.
A spokesman for Governor Kitzhaber says the loss of two Republican death penalty opponents in the legislature in the past year has created uncertainty about whether state lawmakers will take up a ban on capital punishment.
On the Web:
Gov. Kitzhaber's death penalty moratorium announcement
Capital punishment in Oregon
Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network