Thursday, 5 April 2007

Kaine's Ban On Smoking Rejected by Legislature----Vetoes of Bills to Expand Death Penalty Blocked


Kaine's Ban On Smoking Rejected by Legislature----Vetoes of Bills to
Expand Death Penalty Blocked

The Republican-controlled General Assembly faced off against Virginia Gov.
Timothy M. Kaine (D) Wednesday, rebuffing his concerns about expanding the
use of the death penalty.

By wide margins, the House of Delegates and Senate overrode Kaine's veto
of legislation to make the killers of judges and witnesses eligible for
the death penalty. The House also voted to override Kaine's veto of a bill
that would make accomplices eligible for capital punishment, but the
Senate agreed with the governor, meaning the bill will not become law.

Republicans say Kaine's veto of the death penalty bills proves the
governor is a liberal out of touch with the majority of residents.

"His defeat shows it's a law-and-order state," said House Majority Leader
H. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem).

Kaine, a Catholic, is morally opposed to the death penalty but pledged
during his 2005 run for governor that he would uphold the state law. Since
taking office, Kaine has overseen four executions but stopped one because
the inmate was suspected of being mentally ill.

When he vetoed the death penalty bills last month, Kaine said he believes
that Virginia executes enough people. The state has put 98 inmates to
death since 1976, more than any state besides Texas.

"While the nature of offense targeted by this legislation is very serious,
I do not believe that further expansion of the death penalty is necessary
to protect human life," Kaine said in his veto message.

During Wednesday's debate, Del. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) pointed out
that the slaying of a police officer is already covered by Virginia's
death penalty statute.

"The fact we protect our police officers is a statement we are protecting
the very symbol of our legal system in Virginia," Gilbert said. "Certainly
witnesses, who also are the very symbol of our system, deserve our

Later, when talking about the bill on accomplices, Gilbert referred to
Charles Manson, who was the mastermind behind the execution-style slayings
of actress Sharon Tate and six others in Los Angeles in 1969.

Because there was never evidence that Manson shot or stabbed anyone
himself, "he could not get the death penalty in Virginia today," Gilbert
said. "I hope the governor understands who Charles Manson is."

House Minority Leader Ward L. Armstrong (D-Henry) said he was offended by
Gilbert's remarks. Kaine's opposition to the death penalty is rooted in
his religion, Armstrong said.

Kaine "knows who Charles Manson is," Armstrong told Gilbert. "But he is a
man of strong religious conviction, and I think he issued these vetoes
after much thought and ponderance. The governor knows full well the
magnitude of this situation."

Armstrong and a majority of other House Democrats voted to override
Kaine's vetoes.

"Virginia families deserve the safest streets we can provide, and that
means the maximum deterrent for our most violent offenders," said Del.
Brian J. Moran (Alexandria), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

(source: Washington Post)

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