DES MOINES — A bill that would re-establish the death penalty in Iowa has emerged in the Iowa Senate, but it’s unlikely to become law.A key member of the Iowa House who supports the concept of capital punishment tabled a similar plan last year. He concluded it costs taxpayers less to put someone in prison for life than to pay for years of legal challenges to a death sentence.Governor Kim Reynolds, when asked about the bill’s prospects during her weekly news conference, said Senators now have an opportunity to discuss the issue.“But there’s a lot of things that go into considering that and I haven’t seen any shift from where we were last year,” Reynolds said Wednesday.House Speaker Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake doesn’t sense a death penalty bill is a priority for her fellow Republicans in the House.“Sometimes I hear from people: ‘I want to do this.’ ‘I want to work on this,’” Upmeyer told Radio Iowa and The Cedar Rapids Gazette. “I have not heard that, so I guess that would surprise me if that became an issue.”Another wrinkle in this year’s debate is an announcement last August from the head of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis said the death penalty is “inadmissable” and it’s the goal of the church to abolish capital punishment worldwide. Tom Chapman of the Iowa Catholic Conference said priests are talking about the issue in their parishes.“We don’t want to commit violence to try to protect people from violence,” Chapman told Radio Iowa.Twenty Republicans in the Iowa Senate are co-sponsoring a bill to impose the death penalty on those found guilty of kidnapping, raping and killing a child. It takes the support of 26 senators to pass a bill.Iowa abolished the death penalty 54 years ago.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Forester Gail Kimbell told a news conference there were two “causal factors” involving the tragedy. “There was a loss of situational awareness concerning the dangers associated with potential fire behavior … while in a complex urban wildland situation,” Kimbell said. Decisions by command officers and supervisors to try to protect buildings also was a causal factor, Kimbell said. “They underestimated, accepted or misjudged the risk to firefighter safety,” Kimbell said. The individuals who made those decisions were not identified, and the officials at the news conference refused to answer questions about the contents of the report or to elaborate on the findings. They only answered questions about the procedure of the investigation and follow-up. Gary Helmer, the U.S. Forest Service’s safety and occupational health manager, said the inspector general for the U.S. Department of Agriculture has also begun an investigation. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! YUCAIPA, Calif. – Risky decisions to protect structures from a raging arson wildfire last fall, failure to fully scout escape routes and social pressure to work in a hazardous situation apparently led to the deaths of five U.S. Forest Service firefighters who were overrun, an investigative report released Tuesday found. “The human elements are critical factors in the evaluation of this investigation,” said the report on the Esperanza Fire. “A risky decision or a series of risky decisions appear to have contributed to this dangerous situation from which there was no room for error.” Families of the fallen firefighters were shown the report before its release, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Matt Mathes. The investigation was conducted by the federal agency and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the agency that was in command of the firefighting effort. The Esperanza Fire was ignited Oct. 26, 2006, and was spread by fierce Santa Ana winds. The five firefighters and their engine were overrun by flames as they tried to protect a house in a mountain community about 90 miles east of Los Angeles. The blaze eventually charred more than 60 square miles and destroyed 34 homes and 20 outbuildings.