Death penalty debate could end with fizzle
Today, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee rejected a bill that would repeal the death penalty. Like two years ago, the effort failed on a 5-5 tie vote (a majority is needed for passage).
For most legislation, that would be the end of the story. But not this bill. Not this year.
Gov. Martin O’Malley has said he would do “everything in my power” to end capital punishment in Maryland this year. He’s calling for a full vote in the Senate, and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller says that will happen – as soon as next week.
Miller is putting aside his respect for the committee process and allowing a rare procedural move to unfold. When the committee result – known in Annapolis as a report – comes to the floor, a senator will recommend that the report be rejected, and that the full bill be substituted in its place. That way, the full Senate can debate the measure.
“This is a bill of some importance,” Miller, a death penalty supporter, said this morning before the committee action. “A bill that the public reads about and expects their legislators to take a stand.”
Miller supports the death penalty. And no one knows the thinking of the other 46 members of the Senate better than him.
“I don’t anticipate a long, protracted debate,” Miller said yesterday. “I think I know where the votes will be.”
That sounds like the Great Death Penalty Debate of ’09 could end wth a fizzle. A Baltimore Sun survey of senators showed that majority want to keep capital punishment.
So after next week the Assembly could put the death penalty behind it for another year, and get back to talking about just how bad the state budget is.