Republicans hold 36 of the 49 seats in Nebraska's unicameral legislature. Last week, the legislature voted 30-13 to pass a bill to end the death penalty in the Cornhusker State.
Republicans were more likely than not to vote for repealing the death penalty. This bucks historical patterns, but I think there are good reasons to assume this may be a trend. The Republican Party nationally is becoming more pro-life. Many pro-lifers, including me, see the death penalty as antithetical to a culture of life.
Also, conservative distrust of government is starting to trickle into law enforcement, where government power is most fearsome.
Nebraska legislator Al Davis wrote an op-ed on the matter:
On April 16, the Legislature advanced LB 268, which eliminates the death penalty in Nebraska. Although Republicans control more than 75% of the seats in the Unicameral, and the party leadership clearly supports retention of the death penalty, 17 senators (including myself) cast ballots to advance LB 268.
There were more Republican votes than Democrats moving to advance the bill.
My own opposition to the death penalty is based on my pro-life convictions, but also on research I have done which reveals a disturbing number of false confessions, planted evidence, or mistaken eyewitness testimony which has led to imposition of the death penalty.
Some data indicates that perhaps 5% of death row residents nationally are innocent.
I do not believe the state should ever risk murdering an innocent person.
Earlier signs of this trend included then-State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, in 2009, running in a contested GOP primary for attorney general, casting the lone Republican vote against expanding the death penalty.