Karen's Law dies after receiving abortion amendment - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Karen's Law dies after receiving abortion amendment

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In 1988, 15 year old Jones County resident Karen Knotts, was kidnapped, raped and murdered. The man convicted was her stepfather James Pugh. He was sentenced to life in prison, but became eligible for parole this year.

Karen's Law, a Mississippi bill named in her honor, set out increase the sentence of manslaughter from 20 years to 30 years.

"Well, the bill originally passed the senate with a vote of 51 to 0," explained Senator Chris McDaniel.

Republican Senator Chris McDaniel was confident Karen's Law would pass the House. But when the bill was sent to the Mississippi House, it was amended.

"Part of the provisions that were attached to the bill dealt with abortion. And, of course, I'm pro-life and 100% in favor of any statutory restrictions that would limit abortions in this state," said McDaniel.

An abortion bill, attached to a law dealing with manslaughter. This may sound odd, but this is something Senator McDaniel says is completely within their rights.

"What happens is, it's an issue of germanous. If there is similarity in the bill to another issue, and a Senator or House member wishes to add their amendment to that issue, as long as the amendment is germane to the bill, then it's allowed," explained McDaniel.

With the amendment attached, the bill was sent back to the Mississippi Senate.

"It was thought the amendment would fit well. Although, in doing that, the Chairmen of Judiciary B decided that he did not like it. There for he would not risk bringing it back to the Senate and the bill just died in his pocket. Like a pocket veto," said McDaniel.

While Chairman Hob Bryan may have disagreed with the amendment attached to the law, Senator McDaniel wishes he would have taken different action.

"With all due respect to him, had he just simply invited conference on the bill. By inviting conference on the bill, if there are problems constitutionally speaking, or problems statutory. At that point in the conference committee. Three Senate members, three House members get together; we can adjust the bill and make it work. And had he done that, Karen's Law would still be alive today," said McDaniel.

Senator McDaniel says it's unlikely the bill will be brought up again this year in special session, but he plans to reintroduce it during the regular session which begins January 2013.

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