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Md. Senate Votes to Allow Debate on Death Penalty

The Maryland Senate has approved a pair of procedural votes to allow floor debate of Gov. Martin O'Malley's death penalty repeal bill to begin this afternoon.

In a preliminary victory for O'Malley (D), the Senate voted 25-22 to debate the bill, despite an unfavorable recommendation last week by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. The same motion was used 30 years ago to bring a bill to the floor that reinstated the death penalty.

A second motion passed 24-23 that will allow debate on amendments to begin later today. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), who opposed both motions, said it would start at 3:30 p.m.

The preliminary debate opened this morning with an appeal for fairness.

"Back 30 years ago, we had a free and open debate about this issue," said Sen. Lisa A. Gladden (D-Baltimore), who is sponsoring the repeal bill with O'Malley. "It is not about process or procedure. It is about principle."

Republicans bristled at the process.

"This is wrong," said Sen. David Brinkley (R-Frederick). "You're saying we're going to play baseball by one set of rules until we don't get the outcome we want."

Here is a story on O'Malley's lobbying efforts.

By Anne Bartlett  |  March 3, 2009; 11:02 AM ET
Categories:  General Assembly , John Wagner  
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Next: Blog Roundup: Maryland Death Penalty


It is my sincere hope that this repeal effort fails. This initial vote is concerning, although by no means final. Let's hope the Maryland Senate does the right thing and votes this rubbish legislation down.

Posted by: miyago123 | March 3, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure Chris Van Hollen used this procedural ploy while a MD state senator to ram through his 2001 handgun ban. So, it's nothing new.

Posted by: k_romulus | March 3, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Murder is certainly the most serious of violent crimes. It deserves a full and fair hearing... by the citizens of Maryland. Let the citizens of Maryland vote directly on the death penalty and on whether a governor should be able to commute a death sentence imposed by a jury or pardon a convicted first-degree murderer.

Posted by: srb2 | March 3, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Very simple,
Please keep the death penalty,
Vote to limit the time of appeal.
10 or more years to sit on death row, and tieing up the court system with appeals is not doing anyone any good. Especially the taxpayer

Posted by: movette | March 3, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

What a complete fraud on the voters. O'Malley is the governor. If he is opposed to the death penalty, all he needs to do is NOT sign the death warrants that come across his desk. Faced with having to make a moral decision with potential political consequences, O'Malley brings the entire General Assembly to a standstill while health care, unemployment, energy, personal and corporate tax rates, and all manner of important legislation stands idle. This isn't anything but cheap political theater and opium for the masses.

Posted by: cahlers | March 3, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I think this is great news, and as a resident of Maryland, hope it passes.

Posted by: gothaggis | March 3, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

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