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Louisiana House to Debate Whether to Abolish Death Penalty

Debate over Louisiana's use of the death penalty is moving to the House floor.

The House criminal justice committee Tuesday voted 8-7 to send Rep. Terry Landry's legislation to abolish capital punishment to the full House for consideration.

Chances of passage in the conservative chamber, however, are slim. The Senate overwhelmingly rejected a similar proposal last month. Landry, a New Iberia Democrat and former state police superintendent, wants lawmakers to continue the debate.

He's pursued the proposal unsuccessfully for several years.

The measure would abolish the death penalty for offenses committed starting in August. Republicans on the committee opposed the proposal, while Democrats supported it, along with the committee's one independent. Two GOP lawmakers on the panel weren't present for the vote, absences that likely helped the bill narrowly edge forward. Louisiana held its last execution in 2010.

The corrections department says it can't get lethal injection drugs because companies don't want their products associated with capital punishment. An effort to make the drug supplier information secret, aimed at restarting executions, also awaits debate on the House floor.