From the Morning Memo:

Assembly Codes Committee Chairman Joe Lentol in an interview Wednesday questioned whether a bill that would strike the death penalty from state law should be taken up, saying lawmakers should avoid what has been an historically contentious issue.

New York’s death penalty was outlawed in 2004 by the Court of Appeals, but the measure remains on the books. A bill introduced this month would eradicate the measure from state law.

Lentol, a Brooklyn Democrat, pointed to the potential political fallout from taking a vote on the issue.

“We’re asking people to take a vote on something that isn’t the law anymore because the Court of Appeals has struck it down,” he said. “It makes no sense to do that, especially because we don’t know where the endgame turns out.”

Asked if there could be political fallout from a full death penalty, Lentol said it was possible.

“I come from the old philosophy school and that is to let sleeping dogs lie,” he said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year embraced a push to remove the death penalty from the books and included the provision in his 2019 agenda. His father, the late Gov. Mario Cuomo, blocked efforts by the Legislature to reinstate the death penalty in New York.

In 1995, Gov. George Pataki successfully won passage of a new death penalty law that was later struck down by the court. New York has not executed an inmate on death row since 1963.

“It’s an important message to send to everyone who cares about criminal justice reform and the ability for legislators to act on it,” said Sen. Brad Hoylman, who sponsors the bill in the state Senate.

“As long as it remains on the books, the death penalty is a specter that hangs over our criminal justice system. So, we should remove it once and for all.”