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Nebraska Governor Vetoes Bill That Repealed Death Penalty

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts vetoed legislation passed last week that repealed the state's death penalty.

"Please sustain my veto. Please stand with the citizens of Nebraska and law enforcement for public safety," he said, flanked by law enforcement personnel, murder victims' family members and state lawmakers who support capital punishment.

As we reported last week, "opposition to the death penalty came from Republican lawmakers who are against it for fiscal or religious reasons, as well as Democrats and independents.

"Nebraska has not executed a prisoner in nearly 20 years — something Ricketts, a Tea Party Republican who strongly supports capital punishment, wants to change. He said this week that Nebraska had bought new lethal injections to resume the practice."

Last week's vote was 32-15. The state has a unicameral Legislature where all bills go through three votes. The vote in the previous rounds were 30-16 and 30-13.

It would take 30 votes to override a veto from Ricketts.

Fred Knapp of member station NET News tells our Newscast unit that one supporter of repeal "has already announced he'll switch and side with the governor. A close vote is expected Wednesday afternoon."

If lawmakers succeed in overriding the veto, Nebraska will become the first Republican-controlled state in the U.S. to repeal the death penalty since North Dakota in 1973.

The previous attempt in 1979 to repeal capital punishment in the state failed when the measure was vetoed by then-Gov. Charles Thone.

The death penalty is legal in 32 states; the 18 states that have banned it recently include Maryland (2013), Connecticut (2012), Illinois (2011) and New Mexico (2009).

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