OLYMPIA, Wash. — The move to eliminate the death penalty in Washington state failed to come up for debate or a vote on the House floor Friday, essentially killing the bill.
While the legislative session is scheduled to last until Thursday, March 12, bills had to be voted out of the House and Senate by 5 p.m. Friday.
“One day the death penalty will be repealed. And one day history will look back at our state’s death penalty policy and shake its head in collective sadness,” said bill sponsor Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle.
Rep. Jenny Graham said she thought her personal story helped keep the issue from coming up on the House floor.
“I don’t think it’s a celebration,” said Graham, R-Spokane, “I’m fighting for Washington’s daughters.”
Graham’s sister, Debbie Estes, was murdered in 1983 by the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway.
Twenty years later, as Ridgway faced the death penalty for seven murders, he confessed to killing dozens of women in exchange for getting life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Graham said keeping the death penalty gives prosecutors a tool to provide more victim families with resolution.
She also fears if the state eliminates the death penalty, some of the offenders who would have received the death penalty will get sentences that allow them to eventually be released.
“It’s not about wanting someone to die,” said Graham, “It’s genuinely about trying to save the innocent lives out there.”
Supporters of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility spent Friday in the gallery overlooking Senate members, hoping they would take action on gun-related bills.
“We want to show all of our members, our gun violence members we’re here to support them,” said session organizer Jordan Waits.
Waits said his organization is still hopeful legislators can pass a bill to put a limit on gun magazines.
But a bill putting a limit of 15 rounds failed to make it out of committee.
Friday afternoon, that bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tana Senn, D-Mercer Island, said the bill was dead.
Waits is refusing to give up hope.
Since that bill requires the state to pay cash for gun owners willing to turn in their magazines, the bill does have a connection to the budget.
Waits hopes the bill will come up as legislators debate the budget before going home next week.
“Until the session’s over, it’s not dead,” said Waits.