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Miller Wants Quick Committee Vote on Death Penalty

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said this afternoon that he would like to see a relatively quick, up-or-down committee vote on a bill to repeal Maryland's death penalty.

His pronouncement is the latest move in a procedural chess game that could affect the outcome of the legislation, which Miller opposes but is a priority for Gov. Martin O'Malley (D).

Similar bills have died in recent years in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, which held a hearing on O'Malley's repeal legislation last week.

To avoid the same fate, bill supporters are considering seeking a committee vote to send the legislation to the Senate floor without a recommendation on its merits. Such a move would be rare but could advance the bill's chances.

In an interview, Miller said he would frown on such a move, which would likely invite an ugly filibuster on the Senate floor.

"I'd prefer that the committee give it a straight up-or-down vote," Miller said. "In politics, people are elected to make decisions. ... I think it would be better if we dealt with this issue, sooner rather than later."

If the bill does make it to the floor, Miller would have other procedural tools to send it back to the committee. A motion to recommit a bill to the committee from which it originated requires a majority vote of the chamber.

By John Wagner  |  February 23, 2009; 2:58 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly , John Wagner  
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