HARTFORD, Conn., April 4 (UPI) -- Proponents of repealing the death penalty in Connecticut won a victory Wednesday when the state Senate approved an amendment considered a test vote.
The Connecticut Post reported the Senate, controlled by Democrats, approved the amendment 21-14 along party lines -- one Democrat was absent -- after 2 hours of debate. Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who presides over the Senate, then waylaid Senate Minority Leader John McKinney's delaying maneuver to send the legislation to the Finance Committee.
The newspaper said the legislative wrangling was expected to go into the night with at least 19 Republican amendments offered.
Senate Democrats had reworked the repeal bill to grandfather in the 11 convicted killers already on death row to make it acceptable to more lawmakers, the Post said.
The Connecticut House is considered more likely than the Senate to approve the repeal and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he would sign the legislation if it reaches his desk, the newspaper said.
A Quinnipiac University poll last month indicated about 6-in-10 people in the state oppose repealing the death penalty.
"People have come to recognize that the death penalty is applied in discriminatory fashion, and is a distraction to our criminal justice system," Senate President Donald Williams, a Democrat, said prior to the day's session. "We'd be much better off without it."
John McKinney, the ranking Senate Republican, said the bill was likely to pass despite objections.
"I believe ... that there are some crimes so heinous and cruel that the death penalty is a just punishment," he said.
He told The Wall Street Journal Connecticut's capital punishment law was among the fairest in the country.
"It provides significant protection for those on death row," he said.
Connecticut has carried out one execution since 1976.
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