SALT LAKE CITY—A bill that would have added Utah to the list of 19 states that have eliminated the death penalty failed to pass during this year’s legislative session.
SB189, a bill that would eliminate the punishment for a first-degree felony homicide was not among one of the 475 bills passed during 2016. Bill sponsor, Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, proposed that all capital punishment for felony homicide cases end after May 2016.
Urquhart pushed the Legislature to end the state’s use of capital punishment for multiple reasons: high costs, failure to prevent crime, and the possibility of wrongly convicting a person. The sponsor also said that capital punishment inflicts too much pain on the families of the inmates and victims.
In a committee meeting, Urquhart said, “To have those families have expectations that someone is going to be put to death and it takes such a long time…I think that’s abusive.”
The legislation passed 5-2 during a Senate committee earlier in this month and even passed earlier in the final week of the Legislature in a House committee. However, with the legislative session ending on Thursday, the House did not have much time to vote on the proposal before the midnight deadline. Ultimately Urquhart abandoned the push to pass the bill because of lack of time and votes.
Urquhart told the Associated Press, “I can’t say that the bill is totally a victim of the clock, but you know if we had another week or so, it would be interesting to see what would have happened.”
Urquhart said that the proposal could be brought back in future legislative sessions. Though the push will not be by Urquhart who is not running for re-election.
The Associated Press and Kalli White contributed to this report.