For the sixth time in a decade, a Democratic state lawmaker has proposed a bill to end the death penalty in Ohio. But this time the measure has significant Republican support.
Sen. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) has been working on a death penalty moratorium since 2011. She's introduced similar bills in 2013, and again in 2015, with Rep. Niraj Antani (R-Miami Township). She was alone in proposing the ban in 2017, and was joined by Republican co-sponsor Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) for her first Senate bill try in 2019.
But things are different this time, Antonio said: “For the first time, we announce today a bipartisan team of legislators to abolish the death penalty in the state of Ohio."
Antonio was joined on the conference call announcing the legislation by several Democrats and Republicans who seem unlikely to agree on anything beyond this issue. Reps. Adam Miller (D-Columbus) and Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) even joined the call together from Miller's office.
Also joining - from the same office! - are Democratic Rep. @Miller4Ohio and Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt. Also on the call: survivor Kwame Ajamu, who spent 30 years on death row before he was released in 2003 https://t.co/vmmKySs00v pic.twitter.com/orNjYcY0Xl— Karen Kasler (@karenkasler) February 18, 2021
Antani was among them, noting that he joint sponsored that similar ban with Antonio in 2015.
“I said we should only try again once we’ve made more progress. That time is now," Antani said.
The Ohio chapter of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty launched last year – the head of that group, Hannah Kubbins, now leads the non-partisan Ohioans to Stop Executions.
Gov. Mike DeWine hasn’t allowed any executions since he took office in 2019, saying at first that he wouldn't allow executions that could be considered "cruel and unusual" and then that the state has been unable to find the drugs needed to carry out the only legal form of the death penalty in Ohio. So he's said lawmakers need to address that lethal injection is impossible from a practical perspective.