Death Penalty Repeal Unlikely, Senate President Says

March 15, 2011

A House of Delegates committee is scheduled to hear testimony today on whether to repeal the death penalty, but the Senate president says the proposal is unlikely to go anywhere this year.

“There’s no sentiment in the Senate” to debate a repeal, said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller in an interview today. Miller, a Southern Maryland Democrat, is a proponent of capital punishment. “We’ve taken it up.”

Two years ago, the Senate wrestled with a Gov. Martin O’Malley-led repeal effort. Instead of abolishing capital punishment, a closely divided Senate opted for a compromise plan that further limits when prosecutors can seek death. O’Malley is not pushing a repeal this year.

Advocates for ending the capital punishment argue the time is right because the state’s years-long de facto moratorium will only continue as officials ponder what chemicals to use in lethal injections.  

The House Judiciary Committee is moving ahead today, but the repeal effort may not even make it to a Senate committee this year. Because it was filed late, the legislation is languishing in a rules committee that determines whether it can get a hearing.

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