An exclusive survey reveals the death penalty bill that passed a House committee Thursday has little chance of passing the 50-member Iowa Senate. Reporters from Radio Iowa and the Lee Enterprises newspapers conducted the survey Thursday and found 29 senators would vote “no” on the bill that would impose the death penalty on those convicted of kidnapping, raping then murdering a child. Most cited their religious beliefs in making that decision.
Senator Tom Hancock, a Democrat from Epworth, said he believes “in the sanctity of life from the beginning to the end.” Senator David Johnson, a Republican from Ocheydan, said “the death penalty is not an Iowa solution.” Senator Jeff Danielson, a Democrat from Cedar Falls, said “it’s hard to back up an oops” if someone is put to death, then later cleared of the crime by new evidence.
Two senators said they were undecided. One senator was absent. Just 18 senators would support the limited form of the death penalty for child killers.
Senate Co-Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, has been saying there are not enough votes in the Senate to pass the bill. “Your number just confirms what I’ve known all along,” Gronstal says. “It’s been clear to me from the start that there aren’t the votes to pass it.”
Senate Co-President Jeff Lamberti, a Republican from Ankeny, has repeatedly said he believes he has the 26 votes necessary to pass the bill in the Senate. He’s surprised our tally shows 29 “no” votes. “Maybe that’s where they all are, but it sometimes changes when it comes to a vote,” Lamberti says.
Senator Larry McKibben, a Republican from Marshalltown who has been on a crusade to pass a limited form of the death penalty isn’t convinced 29 senators would vote no on his bill. “You can stake out your position against your constituents as long the bill’s not up (for debate),” McKibben says. “I’ve run vote cards that changed all the way up until right before the vote on a controversial issue.”
House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, says the dim prospects for the death penalty bill in the Senate will play a role in his decision about bringing the bill up for a debate in the House. “That certainly makes it more problematic,” Rants says. “I guess I’m surprised that that number is the way it is.”
Here is the survey’s basic question: would you support the death penalty for those convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering a child?
The follow is a list of the 50 senators and their yes or no response to that question:
Senator Jeff Angelo, a Republican from Creston, yes (co-sponsor of bill).
Senator Daryl Beall, a Democrat from Fort Dodge, no.
Senator Jerry Behn, a Republican from Boone, yes (co-sponsor of bill).
Senator Dennis Black, a Democrat from Newton, no.
Senator Nancy Boettger, a Republican from Harlan, yes (co-sponsor of bill).
Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, no.
Senator Bob Brunkhorst, a Republican from Waverly, yes (co-sponsor of bill).
Senator Michael Connolly, a Democrat from Dubuque, no.
Senator Thomas Courtney, a Democrat from Burlington, no.
Senator Jeff Danielson, a Democrat from Cedar Falls, no.
Senator Dick Dearden, a Democrat from Des Moines, no.
Senator William Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, no.
Senator Robert Dvorsky, a Democrat from Coralvill, no.
Senator Gene Fraise, a Democrat from Fort Madison, no.
Senator Thurman Gaskill, a Republican from Corwith, undecided.
Senator Michael Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, no.
Senator James Hahn, a Republican from Muscatine, yes (co-sponsor of bill).
Senator Tom Hancock, a Democrat from Epworth, no.
Senator Jack Hatch, a Democrat from Des Moines, no.
Senator Wally Horn, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, no.
Senator Robert Houser, a Republican from Carson, yes (co-sponsor of bill).
Senator Stewart Iverson, a Republican from Clarion, yes (co-sponsor of bill).
Senator David Johnson, a Republican from Ocheydan, no.
Senator Steve Kettering, a Republican from Lake View, yes (co-sponsor of bill).
Senator Jack Kibbie, a Democrat from Emmetsburg, no.
Senator Keith Kreiman, a Democrat from Bloomfield, no.
Senator Jeff Lamberti, a Republican from Ankeny, yes (co-sponsor of bill).
Senator Charles W. Larson, Junior, a Republican from Cedar Rapids, absent.
Senator Mary Lundby, a Republican from Marion, no.
Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, no.
Senator Larry McKibben, a Republican from Marshalltown, yes (co-sponsor of bill).
Senator Paul McKinley, a Republican from Chariton, yes (co-sponsor of bill).
Senator David Miller, a Republican from Fairfield, yes (co-sponsor of bill).
Senator Dave Mulder, a Republican from Sioux Center, no.
Senator John Putney, a Republican from Gladbrook, yes (co-sponsor of bill).
Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, no.
Senator Amanda Ragan, a Democrat from Mason City, no.
Senator Tom Rielly, a Democrat from Oskaloosa, no.
Senator Brian Schoenjahn, a Democrat from Arlington, no.
Senator Joe Seng, a Democrat from Davenport, no.
Senator James Seymour, a Republican from Woodbine, yes (co-sponsor of bill).
Senator Doug Shull, a Republican from Indianola, yes (co-sponsor of bill).
Senator Roger Stewart, a Democrat from Preston, no.
Senator Maggie Tinsman, a Republican from Davenport, no.
Senator Pat Ward, a Republican from West Des Moines, yes (co-sponsor of bill).
Senator Steve Warnstadt, a Democrat from Sioux City, no.
Senator Ron Wieck, a Republican from Sioux City, yes (co-sponsor of bil).
Senator Frank Wood, a Democrat from Eldridge, no.
Senator Brad Zahn, a Republican from Urbandale, yes.
Senator Mark Zieman, a Republican from Postville, undecided.