Death Penalty Moratorium Gets Committee Airing....Sort Of

A pair of bills that calls for studying capital punishment in North Carolina got their first hearing in a House committee today -- sort of.

Lawmakers adopted substitute versions of the bills without debating them, a move designed to keep them alive for the whole two-year session. The substitute bills add money for the studies, otherwise the bills would have died under legislative rules.

But even without official debate, opponents made their feelings known. House Republican leader Paul Stam voted against accepting the substitute bills, one of which would suspend executions for two years while the study is carried out. Stam said after the hearing the death penalty has been studied repeatedly and the measure is just an attempt to stop executions.