NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Victory! House Judiciary Committee advances bill to abolish the death penalty (SB 6052)

Leg­is­la­tion to abol­ish the death penal­ty moved a step clos­er to Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee’s desk today when the House Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee vot­ed along par­ty lines to advance Sen­ate Bill 6052, prime spon­sored by Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Mau­reen Walsh.

[Watch the exec­u­tive ses­sion on TVW.]

Hav­ing been report­ed out of com­mit­tee with a “do pass” rec­om­men­da­tion, SB 6052 now heads to House Rules, where a deter­mi­na­tion will be made regard­ing whether to put it on the floor cal­en­dar for con­sid­er­a­tion by the full state House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. The Sen­ate vot­ed last week to pass the bill by a vote of twen­ty-six to twen­ty-two, with five Repub­li­cans vot­ing aye and four Democ­rats vot­ing nay.

The vote in favor of giv­ing the bill a “do pass” rec­om­men­da­tion was as follows:


  • Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lau­rie Jink­ins (Com­mit­tee Chair)
  • Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Tina Orwall
  • Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Roger Goodman
  • Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steve Kirby
  • Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Chris Kilduff
  • Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Javier Valdez
  • Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Drew Hansen


  • Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Brad Klippert
  • Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jay Rodne
  • Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Paul Graves
  • Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lar­ry Haler
  • Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dick Muri
  • Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Matt Shea

The bill left com­mit­tee with­out being amend­ed, although Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steve Kir­by expressed a desire to attach a ref­er­en­dum clause to the bill (which would sub­ject the leg­is­la­tion to a pub­lic vote this Novem­ber) on the floor.

NPI strong­ly oppos­es plac­ing a ref­er­en­dum clause on Sen­ate Bill 6052. We elect our leg­is­la­tors to make informed, dif­fi­cult deci­sions on our behalf, and this bill exem­pli­fies the kind of leg­is­la­tion that is well suit­ed for the leg­isla­tive process as opposed to the ini­tia­tive or ref­er­en­dum process.

Our Gov­er­nor, our Attor­ney Gen­er­al, imme­di­ate past Attor­ney Gen­er­al, and law­mak­ers and pros­e­cu­tors from both par­ties all agree the time has come to abol­ish the death penal­ty in Wash­ing­ton State.

The Sen­ate has vot­ed; now the House should take up this bill and hold a vote.

NPI urges mem­bers of the House Repub­li­can cau­cus to fol­low Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ter­ry Nealey’s lead and con­sid­er vot­ing in favor of pass­ing Sen­ate Bill 6052.

Nealey joined with Attor­neys Gen­er­al Fer­gu­son and McKen­na to kick off Fer­gu­son’s push for abo­li­tion last year, not­ing in a statement:

As a for­mer pros­e­cut­ing attor­ney for Colum­bia Coun­ty, my heart remains with the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims who suf­fered hor­rif­ic acts that would jus­ti­fy the death penal­ty. Their feel­ings should nev­er be min­i­mal­ized. That is why it has tak­en so long for my thoughts to evolve against the death penal­ty in Wash­ing­ton state. How­ev­er, the steps, the immense and extend­ed time, and the incred­i­ble expense and resources it takes to impose and uphold this most severe form of pun­ish­ment have made the death penal­ty near­ly impos­si­ble to car­ry out. In recent years, even in the most heinous crimes, jurors have failed to impose the death penal­ty. In the mean­time, fam­i­lies suf­fer for years with the angst of hav­ing to go through tri­als, court pro­ceed­ings, appeals and more, not know­ing if the death penal­ty will ever take place.

There are many good argu­ments against abol­ish­ing the death penal­ty. Per­haps the best argu­ment of all is that human beings are fal­li­ble, which means there is always a pos­si­bil­i­ty that an inno­cent per­son could be put to death for a crime they did not com­mit. This has unfor­tu­nate­ly hap­pened many times.

A few peo­ple wrong­ly giv­en death sen­tences have been exon­er­at­ed thanks to the incred­i­ble work of The Inno­cence Net­work, which has a local affil­i­ate at the UW. But oth­ers have been killed despite main­tain­ing their innocence.

By end­ing the death penal­ty, we can ensure that we as a soci­ety nev­er again take the life of a per­son con­vict­ed of a crime they did­n’t commit.

Life, lib­er­ty, and the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness are the Amer­i­can way. Life is one of our fore­most val­ues. Every per­son deserves to live. By get­ting rid of the death penal­ty, we reaf­firm our com­mit­ment to the val­ue of life and join the rest of the devel­oped world in declar­ing that human rights are sacred to us as Americans.

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