Vote unlikely on death-penalty ban in Md.

Time running out in Assembly, sponsor says

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Some Republican lawmakers have criticized the law, arguing it effectively ended the death penalty by requiring such a high burden of proof.

“It basically does not exist in Maryland, and I think that what we’re playing with now is semantics,” Mr. McDermott said. “I don’t think it’s an option you should take off the table, even if you don’t use it.”

The death penalty has been abolished in 14 states, with the Illinois legislature and governor most recently approving a ban this year.

In the past year, many states have also halted or delayed executions owing to a nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental, a chemical commonly used in lethal injections.

In addition to banning the death penalty, Mr. Rosenberg’s bill would reduce sentences for the state’s death-row inmates to life without parole.

He said he expects a similar bill to be introduced next year, and that it is unlikely to face the same opposition as in 2009.

The 47-member Senate, which added 10 new members and gained two Democratic seats this year, is considering a similar death-penalty repeal bill on which 21 senators are co-sponsors. However, it has yet to be introduced in that chamber’s Judiciary Committee.

“The Senate is a more liberal body now than it was,” Mr. Rosenberg said. “We now have the 24 votes needed to pass the bill.”

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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