COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Ohio Senate lawmakers approved a measure banning the execution of the severely mentally ill during a lame duck legislative session on Wednesday.
The state House legislation, introduced by GOP Rep. Brett Hillyer, of Uhrichsville, informally passed during a Senate session after receiving broad support from Republicans and Democrats in the General Assembly.
Senate President Larry Obhof, a Medina Republican, supported the bill but believes most Ohioans support the death penalty for some cases and so he wouldn’t support abolition of capital punishment, spokesman John Fortney said last week.
Ohio is under an unofficial death penalty moratorium as the state says it can’t find an adequate supply of drugs for lethal injection. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has delayed multiple inmates’ executions over the past couple of years as a result.
DeWine has also expressed concern that drug companies — which oppose the use of their drugs in executions — could pull pharmaceuticals from state hospitals to punish Ohio if it did find a lethal drug supply.
Opponents of the death penalty have been pleasantly surprised by the willingness of many in the Legislature to discuss bans on the process in recent years. Advocates for abolition have called on lawmakers to go a step further than Wednesday’s vote, enacting a capital punishment ban during the lame duck legislative session.
A Senate bill championed by Democrat Nickie Antonio in the GOP-controlled Senate has seen backing from Republicans concerned about the cost of capital punishment and the possibility of executing an innocent person.
Photo: Ohio House of Representatives Chamber – Thomas Palmer