The Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee is nearing a vote on a measure that would repeal the state’s death penalty.
The committee could vote as soon as Thursday.
Last week, Gov. Martin O’Malley urged lawmakers in both the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and the House Judiciary Committee to ban capital punishment, calling the practice costly and a poor deterrent of violent crime.
You can listen to streaming audio of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee meeting at the Maryland General Assembly website.
WBAL-AM posts, "Senator Changing Vote On Death Penalty Repeal; Committee Vote Tonight," by Robert Lang.
The chairman of the committee, Democrat Brian Frosh.says the death penalty vote is expected to be very close.
Baltimore County State Senator Bobby Zirkin is seen as the key vote.
Zirkin is among the committee members who Senate President Mike Miller is trying to convince to vote for the bill in committee, so that it can be brought to the Senate floor.
Zirkin told WBAL News today that he finds himself "dreadfully in the middle of the issue." He believes the death penalty is necessary for certain killers, but he notes Maryland's death penalty has not been used for years and does not bring closure for murder victims.
John Wagner writes, "Zirkin announces support for death penalty repeal, bolstering prospects for passage," at the Washington Post.
Sen. Robert A. Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) said Wednesday night that he plans to vote in favor of repealing Maryland’s death penalty, which means the measure now has the support of a majority of members on a key committee.
Repeal legislation has died in recent years in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, which is scheduled to vote Thursday on the latest version of the bill sponsored by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D). A majority vote by the committee would allow the bill to move to the full Senate, where there appears to be enough votes for passage.
Zirkin has agonized over how to vote, and he said in an interview Wednesday night that he remains “very torn.” But he said he had managed to separate his emotional response to people who commit heinous murders from his legal analysis of the issue.
The Annapolis Capital Gazette reports, "Senator believes gun control, death penalty bills will pass." It's by Alex Jackson.
The chair of the Senate's Judicial Proceedings Committee said the panel will vote on and should pass both Gov. O'Malley's gun-control and death penalty bills.
Sen. Brian E. Frosh, confirmed his committee will use the duration of their evening after a hearing to vote on Senate Bill 276, O'Malley's measure to repeal the death penalty, and Senate Bill 281, the governor's comprehensive gun-control plan.
While the death penalty repeal will be a more straight-forward issue for the committee, Frosh said he expects both bills to be tested by a wave of proposed amendments.
"Committee chairman predicts death penalty repeal will advance to Md. Senate floor," is the Washington Post report, also by John Wagner.
A bill to repeal Maryland’s death penalty is likely to clear a key Senate committee on Thursday night after an amendment is adopted that deletes a $500,000 appropriation to help crime victims, the panel’s chairman said.
The bill, a priority of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), has stalled in recent years in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. But it picked up a new supporter on Wednesday night, when Sen. Robert A. Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) told The Washington Post that he plans to vote for the bill.
The Baltimore Jewish Times posts, "Debate Over Capital Punishment In Maryland Heats Up," by Ron Snyder.
Rabbi Seth Bernstein said his understanding of Jewish law is that the preservation of human life takes precedent above all else.
The Howard County Board of Rabbis president believes this is true even for murderers. That is why Bernstein is among a growing list of religious leaders supporting Maryland officials in repealing the death penalty.
“The death penalty is not a deterrent for murder,” Bernstein said. “I’m not opposed to punishing those who kill, but the death penalty, even for the most heinous crimes, is not the answer. It doesn’t feel appropriate to take another life in response for the murder of another.”
Rabbi Bernstein was one of a diverse group of religious leaders who urged lawmakers earlier this month to repeal capital punishment in Maryland. More than 300 leaders representing Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Lutherans, Presbyterians and others signed a letter calling for the end of the death penalty and circulated it to all members of the Maryland General Assembly.
"Death penalty is a vexing issue for both sides," is Barry Rascovar's column in the Gaithersburg Gazette.
Death. It’s one of the marquee topics of the current General Assembly session.
Abolishing the death penalty is near the top of the liberal social agenda this year — the equivalent of last year’s crusade to legalize same-sex marriage.
A great deal of moralizing and hand-wringing were on display in Annapolis this week, as advocates continued their determined drive to ban the state from putting any criminal to death.
Unless you base your attitude on the Old Testament’s an eye-for-an-eye directive, the death penalty is out of place in the ethereal arena of ethics and religious teachings. It is wrong to kill another. Period. It’s what every parent teaches his or her children. Religious leaders call it a mortal sin.
African-American ministers and the NAACP have joined Annapolis advocates in large numbers this year. There’s a racist overtone to the large number of blacks put to death in evangelical, Southern states that is hard to refute.
Such a bandwagon is ideal for Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is in national campaign mode this session. He’s a convert to the abolish the death penalty movement, but converts often are the most ardent.
Earlier coverage of the Maryland repeal legislation begins at the link.