"MARYLAND: Senate committee votes to repeal death penalty," is the AP report by Michelle Janaye Nealy. It's via Delmarva Now.
Gov. O'Malley's bill to repeal the death penalty inched one step closer to becoming law when a Senate committee passed the measure in a 6-5 vote.
The bill now moves to the full Senate floor, where it also expected to pass.
Sen. Robert Zirkin, a Baltimore County Democrat who was once considered a potential a swing vote, threw his support behind the measure after much soul searching.
"I am forever torn on this issue," Zirkin said. "The practical reality of our death penalty from a legal standpoint is that it just doesn't work."
The senator said commentary from the families of victims guided his vote.
"The victims' families are caught in a system that never executes anybody," Zirkin said. "In most jurisdictions, the state's attorney won't even seek it, and you end up with families who are put through endless appeals and never getting any closure."
The legislation passed with an amendment that eliminates a $500,000 crime fund to aid the families of slaying victims. The language could have prevented the issue from being petitioned to a referendum vote. The Maryland Constitution bans any appropriations bill from being petitioned to voters.
The Baltimore Sun reports, "Senate panel approves death penalty repeal, altered gun bill," by Michael Dresser and Erin Cox.
The Judicial Proceedings vote for repeal was the first for that committee since 1969, when the measure was defeated on the Senate floor, according to the Assembly's library staff. The panel temporarily blocked repeal in 2009, but the measure was brought to the floor in a rarely used parliamentary maneuver. The bill was amended on the floor that year to retain the death penalty but to allow it only in cases where the prosecution could meet one of the highest evidentiary standards in the country.
Besides Zirkin, voting for repeal in committee Thursday were the panel's chairman, Sen. Brian E. Frosh; Sen. Lisa A. Gladden of Baltimore; Sen. C. Anthony Muse of Prince George's; and Sens. Jennie Forehand and Jamie Raskin of Montgomery County. All are Democrats.
Voting against the bill were Democratic Sens. James Brochin and Norman Stone of Baltimore County and Republican Sens. Nancy Jacobs of Harford, Joseph Getty of Carroll and Christopher Shank of Washington County.
Five men, all convicted murderers, remain on death row in Maryland for killings that go back as far as 1983. The state has not executed a prisoner since 2005. The Maryland Court of Appeals imposed a de facto moratorium in 2006 when it threw out the rules under which executions are carried out. Those regulations have not been replaced amid complaints from death penalty supporters that the O'Malley administration has been dragging its feet.
"Md. Senate panel approves measures on death penalty repeal, tighter gun-control," is by John Wagner and Aaron C. Davis in the Washington Post.
Gov. Martin O’Malley’s bill to abolish Maryland’s death penalty cleared a tall hurdle Thursday evening as a key Senate committee approved the measure for the first time and sent it to the full chamber for a vote next week.
The same Senate panel, which voted 6 to 5 for the repeal bill, later signed off on sweeping gun-control legislation, another top O’Malley priority, in a voting session that stretched until nearly midnight.
Maryland, where five prisoners sit on death row, would become the 18th state to outlaw capital punishment. Death sentences would be replaced with life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Ultimately, the issue could be decided by voters. If a repeal passes, opponents have vowed to take advantage of a process in Maryland that allows citizens to petition just-passed laws to the ballot.
The Annapolis Capital Gazette coverage is, "Maryland Senate committee votes in favor of death penalty repeal," by Alex Jackson.
Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposed death penalty repeal is headed to the floor of the state Senate.
After nearly two hours of debate, the Senate's Judicial Proceedings Committee voted 6-5 Thursday evening to send O'Malley's bill to the full Senate, with amendments.
Under the proposal, Senate Bill 276, life without parole would become the highest level of punishment.
The committee deleted a requirement for the governor to allocate $500,000 of savings from the repeal to the Maryland Victims of Crimes Fund. That amendment was proposed by Raskin, D-Montgomery.
If the bill is signed into law, repeal opponents are expected to attempt to petition it onto the ballot, as allowed by the Maryland Constitution and as done for same-sex marriage last year. But laws "making any appropriation" are excluded from this provision.
A letter from the Attorney General's Office last month said it was "more likely than not" that a court would allow a petition effort to go forward regardless of the language in his original bill.
Still, the committee approved Raskin's amendment after he presented a letter from O'Malley saying the governor would provide the funding whether it was required in the bill or not.
Earlier coverage of the Maryland repeal legislation begins at the link.