It’s the time in the legislative session that some of the issues with little or no chance for passage get a chance for a public hearing.
The vaguely-named Senate Progress and Development Committee, set up a few years ago to give a minority party member a committee to chair. has taken testimony on a Democratic issue unlikely to go anywhere in the Republican-dominated General Assembly. Senator Gina Walsh of St. Louis wants to abolish the death penalty, which she calls “one of society’s most polarizing topics.. Witnesses for her bill are familiar anti-death penalty organizations: Missourians Against the Death Penalty, the American Civil Liberties Union, Missouri Association for Social Welfare, and the Missouri Catholic Conference–represented by lobbyist Rita Linhardt, who says about ten percent of those who have been sentenced to death are later exonerated, including a man last week, the 144th person facing execution who is now free.
Number 143, exonerated last October, was Reginald Griffin, the fourth Missourian since 1997 exonerated after being sentenced to be executed.
Opponents of repeal have seen no reason to testify.
The chairman of the committee, Senate Minority Leader Jolie Justus, has not been told when the committee might be able to send the bill to the full Senate for debate.