Death Penalty Repealed in Nebraska …Here comes the Initiative Petition

Seal_of_Nebraska.svgWith 30 state Senators voting to override Governor Pete Ricketts’ veto of the Death Penalty Repeal, the Death Penalty ceases in Nebraska.

And we now wait for the movement for an Initiative Petition on the November 2016 ballot.

But Senator Beau McCoy isn’t waiting:

Today, Senator Beau McCoy of Omaha is announcing the formation of Nebraskans for Justice, standing-up for the vast majority of Nebraskans who believe the death penalty is appropriate for the most heinous of crimes. Nebraskans for Justice is an organization that will explore the possibility of a citizen-driven ballot initiative to give Nebraska citizens the option of reinstating Nebraska’s death penalty.

“With the formation of Nebraskans for Justice, I am standing with Nebraskans who are thoroughly disappointed with Nebraska Legislators who voted to end Nebraska’s death penalty,” said Senator McCoy. “Once again, Nebraska’s Legislature has gone against the wishes of an overwhelming number of Nebraskans who believe the death penalty should be in place for those who commit the most heinous crimes.”

In the upcoming weeks, Nebraskans for Justice will look at launching a petition drive to add this issue to the ballot so Nebraskans can voice their opinion on this important issue. Nebraskans for Justice will be meeting with citizens, civic leaders and community organizations to gauge their interest.

“Launching Nebraskans for Justice is a direct result of the overwhelming response I have received from citizens throughout our state who feel that their voices were ignored by the Legislature,” said Sen. McCoy.

Nebraskans interested in Nebraskans for Justice are encouraged to visit the Facebook page for Nebraskans for Justice to show their support for this important effort and engage in the process.

Nebraska lawmakers voted today to override the Governor’s veto. Senator McCoy was in the minority of senators who voted to keep the death penalty in the state. With this repeal, Nebraska has become the first Republican-controlled state in the U.S. to repeal the death penalty since North Dakota in 1973. Numerous previous attempts to repeal the death penalty had failed until this year with the effort spearheaded by Omaha Senator Ernie Chambers.


Passing this along from state Senator John Murante on his change of the death penalty vote:

“This has been the hardest issue that I have confronted during my time here in the Unicameral. When I was elected, I promised my constituents I would fight to lower taxes, reduce government, and protect life. I have worked hard to balance my personal beliefs while at the same time representing the good people of Legislative District 49.

“In the past week, I have had hundreds of conversations with my constituents and I listened and took to heart what they said. I know that I’m not going to be able to satisfy everybody on every issue. I pledged to do my best to vote the way the majority of my constituents want, and it has become obvious to me that the majority support Governor Ricketts’ veto.

“Throughout my time in the Legislature and until last week, the vast majority of contacts to my office concerning the death penalty were firmly supporting repeal. Over the last week, however, that has changed and the vast number have been urging me to support Governor Ricketts’ veto.

“Though I remain firmly opposed to the death penalty on a personal level, I cannot ignore the will of Nebraskans who have contacted me. This is why today I voted to uphold the Governor’s veto.

“I hope that in the future, this issue can go before the voters themselves, instead of being subject to the back-and-forth maneuvering that can occur on issues being debated in the Unicameral. This is too important of an issue for too many.”

Governor Ricketts released the following statement:

“I want to thank Senator Murante for his thoughtful approach to this issue. Senator Murante is a man of deep faith, character and courage. I know this is an issue that he cares about, and I commend him for being willing to listen to the vast majority of Nebraskans who oppose attempts to repeal the death penalty. Senator Murante is a leader in the Legislature and today’s vote proved it.”

Sen. Murante has not yet announced whether or not he will run for the GOP nomination of the 2nd District Congressional seat.


  1. Ken says:

    The vote went pretty much as I expected. I expected some to switch, but not enough to affect the outcome. I hope all the senators(Lindstrom), etc. who lied to their constituents are kicked out on their rear-ends next time.

  2. Great Day for Nebraska says:

    Congrats to Murante for making it clear that he will keep his finger in the wind at all times. He might have jumped ship at the last minute, but at least he helped get this bill most of the way.

  3. East Sarpy Citizen says:

    Senator Garrett is out this next time around. He clearly doesn’t listen to the people of Bellevue. How can he overlook how this community has been impacted by the murders of the 80s. We thought we were elected someone different than Carol Blood, and we really got Carol Blood.

    I am glad that Murante opted to switch at the 11th hour. But it is too little, too late. He stood with the anti death penalty folks and his switch was either politically calculated, or he really did take office with no clear idea where he fell on this issue. Either scenario doesn’t speak much to him as a legislator.

    Thanks to Senator Smith and Kintner. They are true leaders of character and courage.

  4. Lest we forget says:

    Before you give Senator Smith too much credit, remember he sold his vote to the Democrats to break a filibuster on the Death Penalty in order to get his gas tax through.

  5. Scary says:

    I am a Republican, but I am seriously frightened of my fellow Republicans in this state who are showing their true, blood thirsty colors on wanting to keep the useless death penalty. Especially Beau McCoy. Yuck, why are so many people soooooooo crazed about wanting to keep the option for state-sanctioned murder? The death penalty is not a deterrent and has kept nobody safer while we did have it. Get over it. Good day for Nebraska!

  6. Statewide says:

    This could be the start of a very bad thing for the Repubs who voted for the repeal. Now there is going to be a statewide ballot initiative to get the Death Penalty back into law. If there are enough grassroots organizations that are willing to put in the work, that means an energized voting base looking forward to going to the polls in 2016. That could spell serious trouble for the RINOs running for re-election. Some of them like Larson and Schilz don’t care because they’re just marking time, wasting office space in Lincoln anyway, but it could be a rough two “lame duck” years for some of those senators. Senators like Davis face a tough re-election bid back in their home districts.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I don’t follow votes that closely but seem to recall Sen. Murante voting for cloture which allowed the repeal to get over the hump to the final stage. That is what will follow him, not that he switched to sustain the veto. Now he has simply ticked off both sides. Good luck with running for Congress. The pro death penalty people stopped trusting him long ago and the pro repeal people have no reason to come to his aide.

  8. Laviator says:

    Sen. Sullivan from antelope county I feel is on borrowed time. People from her district will not forget or forgive. Larson was a gutless wonder on this. Abstained until last vote but voted to end fillbuster each time. #futurepolitcalofficedone

  9. Anonymous says:

    Translated: Murante is going to run for Congress and was convinced this was the vote to elect him pizza king.

  10. Ed Stevens says:

    And now the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments begins … and all for a stooopid law that hasn’t been enforced since Christ was a corporal. To borrow a phrase that RWP used a few days ago … a poor hill to die on.

    I’d like to say OK, now maybe we can get on to some really significant issues like property taxes, state income tax, higher gas tax, bloated budgets, etc., etc. … but I don’t have much faith that this bunch of gas-bags in the legislature would know an important issue if it took a dump on their front porch.

    Retirement in the sunny south land is looking better with every vote that the Phony-cameral takes.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Same question as TA, why not referendum to repeal law? Or does ballot initiative to reinstate DP put it in stone in Constitution and no future legislation can repeal it without vote of people?

  12. to lest we forget says:

    You are correct. Smith sold his vote and allowed the bill to live.

    Smith should be ashamed and we will remember!

  13. GiftyComTerm says:

    Murante voted one way after “talks with his priest” (translated: he calculated that a future “flip” was worth more politically than toeing the party line throughout) and then “went with the will of the people” (translated: traded his vote, not on an ethanol subsidy, but on this important moral issue of life and death) in exchange for a glowing statement from Ricketts and more (in his eyes). Ricketts looks foolish for agreeing to this w/a first-term state senator without an assurance that the veto would stand. Perhaps this wouldn’t have gotten this far without JM’s earlier support, and JM looks like a buffoon to those who are now learning about him for the first time (translated: 99.8% of the state). He has already signed on to this petition thing to reinstate the death penalty too. Finally, under his alleged “logic,” if he were theoretically a Congressman (lol), would he support raising the minimum wage since his constituents (2nd district) are overwhelmingly in favor of that too? Or is that only when it’s a non-important matter like the death penalty? Ask him in his next podcast interview and force an answer. This guy (who could only get elected to even a state senatorship by essentially creating his own seat – after getting crushed in other earlier electoral efforts) will get knocked back to earth in due time and he can focus his mind on his inherited restaurant’s health inspection violations.

  14. The Eye Ball says:

    What initiative would you back with money that would have the best overall good for Nebraskans?

    1) Reinstating the death penalty, which will be challenged in the courts.
    2) Allow for charter schools
    3) Cut the income tax
    4) Legalize medical marijuana

    Your call.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Sen Bloomfield said he was running around 75% pro, the ones who said were 50/50, except for a couple of the districts in Omaha and Lincoln were lying, a state vote would be around 65-75% pro DP, hence those under the misnomer of democratic cheer like a rock concert at their proclaimed solemn proceeding.
    Mr Stevens that agenda did not and will not happen, the gas tax should have been a sign, they are emboldened enough to take another shot at term limits

  16. to TexasAnnie says:

    A referendum only repeals a law and all signatures must be returned within 90 days after the bill passed.

    An initiative would put the death penalty into the state’s constitution and the signatures must be returned by 4 months before the Nov 2016 election.

    Either way, the public’s vote would be in Nov 2016 no matter what route chosen.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Nebraskans for Justice has been a long-time nonprofit providing legal defense for Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa. Does Beau McCoy look AT ALL before he leaps? Jesus Christ. What a freakin’ joke. No one googled this?

  18. Clipboard Kid says:

    Ballot initiative will cost at least $600,000. We’ll see how much of their personal incomes the pro-death crowd are willing to pony up. $100,000 from McCoy would be a good start. Perhaps Lautenbaugh and Kitner can set aside some of Copacabana cigar bar profits.

  19. Henry Robert says:

    It seems that Senator Jeremy Nordquist is resigning to be Brad Ashford’s Chief of Staff. I thought Amanda McGill was taking that spot. Either way it looks like it will be Heath Mello versus Jean Stothert for Omaha Mayor’s Race in 2017.

    Murante really messed up with that Death Penalty vote. He will only be known as one of the senators who flip flopped. But I guess with Brad’s track record in Washington it should be a tough show down if Murante wins the primary.

    Good luck to Beau McCoy running for Congress, ballot initiative/referendum, being a state senator, etc etc.

  20. NotChuck says:

    Scary Republican, how can you say that the death penalty is not a deterrent? When the state kills a murderer, it ensures that he/she will never commit murder again!

  21. The Eye Ball says:

    For those who think Sen. Beau McCoy is so great on this issue, just remembered he tried to abolish the state income taxed and failed. He also called on Sen. Chambers to resign and failed. And…………

  22. NotChuck says:

    Sen Crawford of Bellevue wrote to me that as a matter of faith and conviction (as a pro-life proponent), she voted for the repeal of the death penalty (and likely voted to override the veto). I respect her for that, but suggest that she didn’t get elected to represent her personal beliefs. She was elected to represent her constituents. Unless she can show demonstrable proof that the majority of her constituents were for repealing the death penalty, she’ll not get my vote again.

    How ironic that the state Senators were so tone-deaf to their constituents and what is going on in their state outside the walls of the Unicameral, that they voted to repeal the death penalty on the same day that police officer Kerrie Orozco was shot to death by a wanted felon from Ernie Chambers’ district!

    Kudos to Senator Chambers, who in his whole life of service as a Senator representing the people of the 11th district, managed to once again out-maneuver the lame-brains in the Unicameral to gain notoriety and publicity — and nothing more. This repeal did nothing to improve the lives of his constituents, excepts for the murderers and thugs who live among them and prey upon them. While Officer Orozco dedicated her life to helping them, Ernie dedicated his “career” to ridiculing his fellow law-makers. How much more he could have done, had he redirected his talents to serious reforms?

  23. Julie Schmit-Albin says:

    NotChuck, Really, Sen. Crawford said she was a “pro-life proponent”? When did that happen? I believe she was either outwardly endorsed by Planned Parenthood or received their tacit approval as the candidate least likely to mess with them. Love how some of these Senators are grabbing onto the “death penalty repeal is pro-life” argument when they have never been called upon to vote on abortion/euthanasia, unethical medical research using embryos. We do know the “pro-choice” members who were endorsed by PP or have voted against pro-life legislation and they all voted for DPR, led by the biggest pro-abort in the Legislature, Ernie Chambers. Nothing ironic there at all.

  24. TexasAnnie says:

    C’mon Julie! You have never acknowledged the IRONY of those killings in Beatrice that were not in a bank. You remember the Beatrice 10, —who were put to death by medical neglect when the last, ‘er, CONSERVATIVE governor of Nebraska decided that those medically fragile and incarcerated beings could just call an ambulance if dying. The funding usually dedicated for medical personnel at BSDC was vetoed, and the unicam did not override that veto, right? Yea, that’s right.

    You have explained about a million times that you ONLY care about LIFE before it’s born. I get that. But your life’s work rings hollow because MOST people care more about those lives with whom they share a relationship. And MOST people would prefer to feed a hungry child and prevent one doomed to starvation from being born. And Julie, some PRO-LIFE people even care about babies after they are born!

    But you are powerful Julie, I acknowledge that. You’re a kingmaker there in Nebraska!

  25. Anonymous says:

    In Ernie’s days of rage thier wasn’t much defending of faith matched against the persons delivering the prayers. The senators faith run about as deep as their support of Blue. Especially the senator genius lawyers from the city of Omaha, and the bootlicker in Bellevue

  26. Anonymous says:

    Unless she can show demonstrable proof that the majority of her constituents were for repealing the death penalty

    You have NO idea how representative government works. Senators are not supposed to poll their district and blindly vote as the majority wishes. They are supposed to spend the time studying an issue, and then make an informed vote. Looking through history one can find multitudes of examples where the majority was wrong (slavery anyone?).

  27. The Grundle King says:

    In a representative government, a person is elected by a majority of voters to *ahem* REPRESENT the people who voted for them. Failure to do so will likely result in the voters selecting a different person to represent them.

    Gosh, it’s almost like ‘represent’ is part of ‘representative republic’ for a reason.

  28. midtownguy says:

    For those that say the Death Penalty is a deterrent, Maybe you can explain why in 2013 Nebraska had 57 murders and Iowa which has 1.1 million more people and has not had the death penalty for decades had for 43 murders.

  29. Peggy says:

    @ Scary

    “Yuck, why are so many people soooooooo crazed about wanting to keep the option for state-sanctioned murder?”====================So civilian murder of another civilian should be legalized? Why have laws at all?

  30. Peggy says:


    “Maybe you can explain why in 2013 Nebraska had 57 murders and Iowa which has 1.1 million more people and has not had the death penalty for decades had for 43 murders.”===========Nebraska
    law enforcement knows a murder when they see one, Iowa law enforcement calls the death “suspicious” until they prove the death a homicide a year later.

  31. Julie Schmit-Albin says:

    TA: We don’t take a position on the death penalty, never have since 1973 when National Right to Life was founded. They rightly concluded that no one else was going to defend the right to life of innocent unborn children and people at risk of euthanasia. As we have seen this session, there are plenty of groups working to advocate for the death penalty repeal and on behalf of heinous murderers who have had years of due process before they ever made it to death row. The only ones advocating specifically against abortion and euthanasia are those who have labored in the Right to Life movement for decades. That is why we are single issue. NRLC knew that our best chance of changing hearts and minds re: Roe v. Wade was to cast a wide net and draw as many people in as possible who have one goal: to restore legal protection to innocent human life from conception through natural death. You have been gone from Nebraska a long time but I remember you coming to Judiciary hearings wearing a T-shirt or some-such that advocated for euthanasia or “mercy killing.” I could question your commitment to the sanctity of life knowing you support abortion and at one time seemed to advocate for euthanasia but I have never walked in your shoes, caring for a disabled child. For that you are to be commended. I also need to disabuse you of the notion that we hold any sway or “power.” Since term limits and the return of Ernie to Judiciary, any attempts to get pro-life legislation are thwarted. Even the pro-lifers on Judiciary have not pushed for those bills to come out. So much for “power.” I would settle for cooperation.

  32. midtownguy says:


    Well over a 15 year period from 1998 to 2013. Nebraska had 864 murders, Iowa had 752 murders. So your statement does not carry any water. Nebraska has had a a higher murder rate then Iowa. Even with the death penalty. So no it is not a deterrent.

    • Peggy says:

      Do you think most murders are committed by people who stop to check the capital punishment laws in the state where they are about to murder someone?

  33. The Grundle King says:

    No punishment is a deterrent…for if ANY punishment had a deterrent effect, crime would cease to exist.

    Perhaps the difference between the murder rates for Iowa and Nebraska can be found by looking at the demographics. Unfortunately, we know that some minority populations commit a disproportionately high rate of homicides when compared to their percentage of the population. Racial minorities account for only about 8.7% of the population in Iowa, compared to about 14% of the population in Nebraska, according to the 2010 census data.

    According to information from the Department of Justice, from 1980 through 2008, blacks accounted for 52.5% of homicide offenders despite comprising a much smaller portion of the population. The 2010 census data shows that Iowa’s population is about 2.9% black, while Nebraska’s population is about 4.5% black. This isn’t thrown out there to start a race war or lay the fault at anybody’s feet, but to help explain the disparity in murder rates.

  34. Rex Kaup says:

    Do the math. For 3 individuals to live in jail for 30 years at $50,000 per year equals $4.5 million! Yea, I think I will support the $600,000 to repeal the vote FOR death penalty to evil scumbags.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Rex, the other side of the equation is how long those on death row live in jail before execution. Average nationally is 15 years, and I’ll bet it’s longer in Nebraska. So add in appeals and other legal maneuvers and no money is saved with a death penalty. Now we could have saved money if we’d execute quicker (for example, the Beatrice 6).

  36. midtownguy says:

    The Grundle King you are totally correct in everything that you said. My point is that is the death penalty were a deterrent as claimed then Iowa should a much I higher murder rate.

    Peggy it’s well know when you live in a state if you the state has a death penalty or not. Your own comment shows that you statement that the death penalty is not a deterrent “Do you think most murders are committed by people who stop to check the capital punishment laws in the state where they are about to murder someone”

    So you are saying they don’t know if there is capital punishment or not and commit the murders anyway. The very definition of deterrent is ” A thing that discourages or is intended to discourage someone from something”

  37. TexasAnnie says:

    Thank-you for your response, Julie. Sorry I could not write back before now…flooding in Texas!

    You are quite right that I advocate for euthanasia. But I do not regard it “mercy killing.” Rather, it is a civil right. How could one have a right to life without a corresponding right to die? Without a right to die, one only has a legal requirement to life! As for me and my child, she has not yet needed a right to die because she has always had her family. Still does! At 30 years of age, she has never spent a single night outside the care of a family member!

    However, persons in her condition who are wards of the state in Nebraska have not fared so well. Can you advise me Julie, why is it that folks there who become rabid, both pro and con, about the death penalty took no interest in the Beatrice 10? Do you suppose that like you, they are all “single issue” advocates? And if that’s the case, WHO WILL ADVOCATE for the DD population there? Anybody?

    And finally, Julie, let me clarify that while I do not believe human life is sacred (because I do not believe anything is “sacred”), I certainly do believe that we ALL have an ethical and moral obligation to provide for those incapable of providing for themselves. After all, we do provide quite amply for “the best and the brightest,” and the “economic developers.” Don’t we…

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