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Miller Makes Procedural Appeal On Death Penalty

Less than two hours before the start of a hearing today on repealing the death penalty, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) made an usual procedural appeal from the rostrum that could affect the course of debate.

The repeal bill, sponsored by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), will be heard today by the Judicial Proceedings Committee. Typically, committees vote to report bills to the floor with either a favorable or unfavorable recommendation. A rarely employed third option allows the committee to send a bill to floor without a recommendation on its merits.

Repeal backers are considering that third option, given unfavorable results from the 11-member committee the past two years. In interviews last month, two members of the committee who previously voted against a repeal bill said they are open to letting the full Senate decide the divisive issue. The repeal bill has fallen one vote short in the past.

Miller asked today that anyone who votes to send the bill to the floor commit to voting for "cloture" once it gets there. A cloture vote is used to break a filibuster, which seems likely on the death penalty bill.

"If you want to to bring the bill to the floor, make sure you vote for cloture," Miller said.

Miller, who supports the death penalty, is loathe to see an unwieldy debate on the issue that could tie up the chamber for several days running. It was unclear this morning if his appeal would make any members rethink the "no recommendation" tactic.

By John Wagner  |  February 18, 2009; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  General Assembly , John Wagner  
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