01 February 2019 :
Capital punishment repeal passes 1st test in House. An effort to repeal Wyoming’s death penalty passed its 1st reading Wednesday afternoon in one of the most intense moments of this year’s session so far. House Bill 145, sponsored by Rep. Jared Olsen, R-Cheyenne, would eliminate capital punishment in Wyoming and replace it with a natural life sentence. The bill was able to make it through its first reading on the House floor with 36 representatives voting in favor, with an 8-vote majority. While the bill still needs to pass two additional votes in the House to move on to the Senate, the 36 votes in support of the repeal mark the most serious chance to end the state’s death penalty since its 1976 reinstatement nationwide. Wyoming is currently one of 31 states that still has a death penalty. However, it has not executed anyone since 1992 and currently has nobody on death row. The bill’s primary sponsor is Rep. Jared Olsen, R-Cheyenne. A 2018 bill fell well short of the necessary votes needed for introduction, and a bill the year before failed to even make it out of committee. This year, efforts to pass the bill were much more organized, with numerous interests working behind the scenes to get the bill past the House. Throughout the week, Randy Steidl — an exonerated death row inmate from Illinois who was wrongly sentenced for the 1986 murders of Dyke and Karen Rhoads — was working members of the House to bring them around to an “aye” vote on the bill.