A hotly contested proposal that resurrects Utah’s use of firing squads to carry out executions narrowly passed a key vote Friday in the state’s Legislature after three missing lawmakers were summoned to break a tie vote.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted 39-34 Friday morning to approve the measure, sending it to an uncertain fate in the state’s GOP-controlled Senate. Leaders in that chamber have thus far declined to say if they’ll support it, and Utah’s Republican Gov. Gary Herbert won’t say if he’ll sign it.
Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, a Republican from Sandy, again declined to tell reporters on Friday if he’d support it.
Rep. Paul Ray, a Republican from Clearfield who is sponsoring the measure, said after the vote Friday that he thinks it will be just as close in the Senate, and he hasn’t started trying to press his case in that chamber.
Lawmakers in House of Representatives initially voted 35-35 on the proposal Friday morning. But Ray asked for three missing lawmakers to be summoned to the floor, where they all voted in favor.
During that time, Riverton Republican Rep. Dan McCay switched to vote in favor, allowing the measure to pass 39-34. When asked later by The Associated Press about the switch, McCay smiled and walked away without commenting.