The Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee backed the measure (House Bill 1274) Wednesday at the urging of families of murder victims. The bill now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for another vote.
The measure passed the House by a single vote last week and has drawn the attention of national anti-death penalty activists, including the father of an Oklahoma City bombing victim, who testified against it Wednesday.
The bill would take the money now being used to prosecute death penalty cases, about $1 million a year, and use it to investigate cold cases instead.
Opponents, including most of the state's district attorneys, say families are being given false hope that their crimes will be solved.