Published on Tuesday, June 19, 2007
RALEIGH, N.C.KEY: NC XGR Executions -->
House Democrats on Monday night stopped, for the second time, a Republican effort to allow executions to resume in North Carolina.
Supporters of capital punishment wanted a floor vote on an amendment to a North Carolina doctor licensing bill. The amendment would not have allowed the N.C. Medical Board to discipline physicians for assisting at an execution.
Executions are effectively on hold in the state as judges hear arguments over lethal injection and the role a doctor may play. The medical board has threatened to punish any doctor who participates in an execution.
Last week, the amendment introduced by Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, was pulled due to technical errors. On a party-line vote Monday, the House blocked debate on the bill without considering the amendment and then approved the licensing bill 112-2.
Then Democrats used another parliamentary move to prevent debate from reopening on the House floor.
House Minority Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake, said the execution issue should be heard and believes many Democrats would have voted for the amendment if given the chance. He criticized Democratic leaders for blocking discussion of the issue while they talk up openness elsewhere.
"They want debate _ except when they don't want debate," Stam said.
Speaker Joe Hackney, D-Orange, said the amendment would have clogged up an otherwise important bill, which now goes to the Senate. Besides, he said he agrees with Democratic Gov. Mike Easley that it is better to let the current litigation over executions run its course before the Legislature should act.
"His position is we ought to simply hold off," Hackney said.
The measure would increase the number of people who can hear medical license suspension and revocation cases. It also would allow more information about the outcome of cases to be shared with the patient who made the original complaint.