Md. Death Penalty Debate Starts This Morning
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) raised the specter of a lengthy floor debate today on the death penalty in remarks to the chamber last night.
Miller said that debate would begin at 10 a.m. on a motion to allow Gov. Martin O'Malley's bill to come to the Senate floor, despite an unfavorable recommendation last week by the Judicial Proceedings Committee. He next noted where he intends to be more than 11 hours later.
"I plan to be at the Maryland-Wake Forest game tomorrow night at 9:30," Miller said, adding that he would skip the game if he has to.
The motion that senators will debate as a courtesy to O'Malley (D) is very rare. (See today's story on the governor's all-out effort to rally support for the bill).
"We haven't done this in 30 years," Miller told his colleagues. "In my view, we shouldn't be doing it."
Miller said the Senate will do it, however, out of a sense of fairness. The last time such a motion succeeded -- and a bill passed -- was 1978. The bill reinstated Maryland's death penalty. At the time, the chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, who assented to the full floor debate, was J. Joseph Curran, who later became Maryland's attorney general and is O'Malley's father-in-law.
"If it's going to be done, we're going to allow it to be done in this matter," said Miller, a death penalty supporter.
If the motion, which requires a majority of the Senate, carries tomorrow, Miller said the actual repeal bill would likely be debated later in the week, and it would be open to amendments.
"Cop killer amendments, raping babies -- you have no idea what kind of amendments we'll see," Miller said.
Stay tuned for updates from the floor as debate continues today.
March 2, 2009; 10:33 PM ET
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