SPRINGFIELD -- Two Republicans have introduced bills that would reinstate and further reform the death penalty if Gov. Pat Quinn signs a bill abolishing it.

SPRINGFIELD -- Two Republicans have introduced bills that would reinstate and further reform the death penalty if Gov. Pat Quinn signs a bill abolishing it.

House Bill 1520, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Reboletti, R-Elmhurst, would ask voters at the November 2012 election whether or not they want Illinois to have capital punishment. The referendum would be advisory.

House Bill 1519, also sponsored by Reboletti, would reduce the number of aggravating factors for which the death penalty can be imposed. And Senate Bill 2277, sponsored by state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, creates a panel that would have to pre-approve cases in which prosecutors seek the death penalty.

The two House bills would go into effect upon passage only if Quinn signs the death-penalty abolition bill sitting on his desk. The governor has said he is weighing the merits of capital punishment and trying to hear from opponents and supporters before he makes up his mind.

Dillard criticized the legislature for passing the death penalty repeal during the lame-duck session in January, before the current members of the legislature were sworn in.

“In the Senate, we never had a thorough discussion of the death penalty,” Dillard said at a Statehouse news conference on Tuesday. “My constituents believe that the death penalty should remain intact for the so-called worst-of-the-worst.”

But during a lengthy debate in the Senate Judiciary Committee Jan. 11, Dillard said, “I don’t mind playing Solomon at this 11th hour. It doesn’t bother me. This is a topic that those of us who are senators have thought about and somewhat know where we are.”

Asked Tuesday about previous debates the Senate had on the issue, Dillard said it wasn’t so much long-time legislators that need hearings but new legislators.

“It made their head swim,” he said.

Supporters and opponents of the death penalty continue to push for Quinn, who has stated that he favors the death penalty, to take their side. Exonerated death-row inmate Randy Steidl held a news conference on Monday saying that he has requested a meeting with the governor.

When asked what he planned to tell the governor, Steidl said, "I would say, 'Governor, don't repeat the mistakes of the past,'" referring to the 20 Illinoisans on death row who were later found innocent.

"Repeal ... is the only reform that will actually work."


Chris Wetterich can be reached at (217) 788-1523 or chris.wetterich@sj-r.com. Staff writer Andy Brownfield contributed to this story.




Would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty only if:

*The murder victim was a witness to a crime, or a judge, juror, prosecutor or defense attorney

* The murder victim was tortured

* The murder victim was a police officer

* The murder victim was a correctional officer

* The defendant murdered more than one person



Would create a State Death Penalty Review Committee. The committee would consist of the attorney general or his or her designee, the Cook County state’s attorney, the president of the State’s Attorney’s Association and another state’s attorney and a retired judge appointed by the governor. An alternate member would be appointed by the governor in case of ties. The committee would approve or disapprove of all requests by prosecutors to seek the death penalty in first-degree murder cases.