"O'Malley to lead death penalty repeal bid," is the title of Michael Dresser's report in today's Baltimore Sun.
Gov. Martin O'Malley will announce Tuesday that he will make an all-out push for repeal of the death penalty in Maryland, renewing an effort that narrowly fell short four years ago.
The governor is scheduled to appear at a noon news conference in Annapolis along with NAACP President Benjamin Jealous and other opponents of capital punishment. The NAACP has made repeal of Maryland's death penalty and its replacement with life without parole a leading goal for 2013.
Jealous said O'Malley has assured him that repeal will be part of his legislative agenda for the General Assembly session that opened last week. The NAACP chief said the group did as the governor asked and provided a vote count showing majorities willing to support repeal in the Senate and the House of Delegates.
"We've cleared the two bars. Now he's following through," Jealous said.
O'Malley has long opposed the death penalty but hasn't made repeal part of his agenda since 2009, when the effort ended in a compromise that sharply limited the circumstances under which the sentence can be imposed. Under the law, prosecutors are able to seek the death penalty only when they have DNA or biological evidence, a videotape of the crime or a video-recorded confession by the killer.
The governor, by including a repeal proposal in his legislative package this year, would send a more powerful message to lawmakers than simply supporting a bill.
Opponents of capital punishment believe this may be the year they finally achieve their goal. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller has said that if O'Malley can round up the votes for repeal, he'll see that the proposal gets an up-or-down vote in the full Senate. Repeal legislation has stalled in a Senate committee in the past, with a 6-5 majority in favor of retaining the death penalty.
No votes are known to have changed on that panel, but Miller, who supports the death penalty for particularly heinous murders, can take steps to get a bill to the Senate floor.
"O’Malley to announce sponsorship of death penalty repeal bill in Maryland," is the Washington Post report written by John Wagner.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley plans to announce Tuesday that he will put the full weight of his office behind repealing the death penalty, a move that could tip the balance on an issue that has sharply divided the legislature for years.
The governor has long opposed capital punishment, arguing that it is costly and an ineffective deterrent, but he has only once before sponsored a repeal bill, which fell short in 2009. With the arrival of several new lawmakers since then, and a sense of renewed momentum, O’Malley (D) is set to try again, according to several aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to more freely discuss the planned announcement.
O’Malley will make the announcement, the aides said, at a noon rally Tuesday in Annapolis with leaders of the NAACP and other civil rights activists, who have made repeal of Maryland’s death penalty a priority this year.
Though the governor’s decision does not guarantee passage, “it makes a huge difference,” said Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery), chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, where repeal bills have stalled in past years, with members arguing that the death penalty should be available for the most egregious murder cases.
A repeal “can’t get done without the governor, and having his active engagement will be vital,” said Frosh, who favors the abolishment of capital punishment.
With O’Malley’s name on the bill, it is certain to get heightened media attention, as well as the focus of a team of lobbyists employed by the governor’s office and personal attention from O’Malley himself.
Earlier coverage from Maryland begins at the link.