"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Monday, April 18, 2016

Virginia lawmakers return to take up death penalty, ethics law

Virginia's electric chair
Virginia's electric chair
Virginia lawmakers are set to return to the Capitol this week to debate how the state should put inmates to death, how it should structure a new economic development initiative, and whether the Old Dominion should tweak its new ethics laws.

Wednesday is the so-called veto session, where legislators return to Richmond for a day to consider Gov. Terry McAuliffe's vetoes and amendments to legislation passed earlier this year.

Among the most watched moves by the Democratic governor is his proposal to shield the identities of companies that supply lethal-injection drugs for executions. 

Virginia has struggled to obtain the drugs necessary for lethal injections and the GOP-controlled General Assembly passed legislation earlier this year that would force inmates to die in the electric chair if there are no available drugs.

McAuliffe said drug manufacturers won't provide Virginia the drugs necessary without the secrecy provision and has vowed to veto the legislation if lawmakers insist on the contentious electric-chair provision. The governor said lawmakers need to agree to his proposed changes if they keep the death penalty.

"If they pass up that opportunity, they will bring the death penalty to an end here in Virginia," he said last week.

The governor's amendment would give Virginia's Department of Corrections the authority to compound its own execution drugs using products from pharmacies whose identities would remain confidential. 

Virginia is one of at least eight states that allow electrocutions, but currently gives inmates the choice of lethal injection or the electric chair.

Republican leaders have not yet signaled how they'll respond to any of McAuliffe's proposed amendments. If they reject amendments, McAuliffe can veto the legislation.

McAuliffe also vetoed 32 pieces of legislation this year, mostly related to social issues like abortion, gun control and gay rights. Republicans will need a 2/3 vote in both chambers to override a veto, and are unlikely to get enough votes in the near evenly split state Senate.

Source: fredericksburg.com, April 18, 2016

Religious coalition urges rejection of execution bill

A coalition of several hundred religious leaders is urging Virginia lawmakers to reject a proposal to conceal the identities of pharmacies supplying drugs to be used in executions.

Several representatives of the interfaith coalition are scheduled to discuss their objections at a news conference Monday at the General Assembly Building in Richmond.

Lethal injection drugs have been hard to obtain in Virginia and other states. That situation prompted Del. Jackson Miller to propose allowing Virginia to use the electric chair if drugs aren't available.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe stripped the electric chair provision and replaced it with one allowing the state to obtain the drugs from pharmacies whose identities would be kept confidential to protect them from critics. The religious coalition says the secrecy amendment would improperly shield pharmacies from accountability.

Source: Associated Press, April 18, 2016

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