CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Legislation is coming soon to end the death penalty in Ohio, a bipartisan group of state senators announced Wednesday.
State Sen. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) is calling for the death penalty to be replaced with life without parole.
The bill will be introduced in the coming weeks, she said in a news conference.
“The death penalty is expensive, inhumane, impractical, unjust and often erroneous. Abolishing it is a practical solution,” Antonio said.
“This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue. No matter what a person’s reason is for supporting this legislation, we all agree that this is critical for our own collective humanity. It is our responsibility to work together across party lines and legislative chambers and move forward to end the death penalty in Ohio.”
Antonio has introduced similar legislation in every General Assembly in which she’s served since 2011.
This is the first time, however, the bill has bipartisan support in the Senate.
State Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) will be a joint sponsor of the bill and Sen. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) plans to be a co-sponsor.
Ohio leaders have been debating the future of capital punishment as the state struggles to find a supply of lethal injection drugs.
Gov. Mike DeWine delayed seven executions last year and asked the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction for a new execution protocol after drug makers threatened to cut off access to medications if Ohio used them for executions.
House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) has said his caucus is having in-depth discussions on the issue and recognizes Ohio has a death penalty law on the books that the state can’t enforce.
Those internal discussions are continuing, Householder said Thursday.
State Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Green Township) said he will oppose the bill to abolish the death penalty: "It needs to be retained for terrorists, mass murderers and the like.”
He’s skeptical the legislation will make it out of the Senate.
“I do not predict where the House would be, but I doubt the Senate would pass it. They still haven’t passed the House-passed bill that would remove the death penalty as applied to the seriously mentally ill— so why would anyone think they would abolish it altogether?”
A Gallup poll released in November said 60 percent of Americans indicated they believe life in prison without parole is better punishment than execution, but 56 percent support it for convicted murderers.