- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 3, 2007

ANNAPOLIS — House Republican leaders are asking Gov. Martin O’Malley to draft regulations immediately to reinstate the Maryland death penalty.

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, has said in the past months he would not draft new lethal-injection guidelines — required by the state’s highest court before allowing the state to proceed with executions — effectively creating a moratorium in Maryland.

House Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell, Southern Maryland Republican, and House Minority Whip Christopher B. Shank, Washington County Republican, say Mr. O’Malley shirked his constitutional duty to enforce the law.

“In refusing to act to enforce that law, we believe, you have engaged in a de facto suspension of the law,” Mr. O’Donnell and Mr. Shank wrote in a letter to the governor this week. “We consider this inaction to be not only an improper appropriation of legislative authority, but a deliberate omission of your duty to the oath of office.”

House Republicans sent a similar letter this week to House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat, and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Southern Maryland Democrat, asking them to reprimand Mr. O’Malley.

“I don’t think I have anything to say about that today,” Mr. O’Malley said yesterday.

Mr. Busch and Mr. Miller were not available for comment.

Mr. O’Malley fought this year to repeal the state’s death penalty and recently said he would try again next year.

The Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, ruled in December that Maryland could not carry out executions until it developed new guidelines for administering lethal injections.

Attempts to repeal the death penalty failed in the General Assembly, along with an attempt to force Mr. O’Malley to draft new guidelines.

Six inmates remain on Maryland’s death row.

Republicans also asked Mr. O’Malley to rescind his two executive orders that allow child care and home health care workers to unionize.

In both instances, Mr. O’Donnell and Mr. Shank argue, Mr. O’Malley co-opted power from the General Assembly.

Lawmakers have defeated measures to allow unionization.

No Maryland governor has been prosecuted for violating the oath of office, said Robert A. Zarnoch, counsel to the legislature. “It’s a very tough thing to do.”

The lawmakers wrote to Mr. O’Malley: “You have elected to defy the Legislature and act through executive order. We feel that you have chosen to ignore the power of the people of Maryland and overstepped the boundary of separation of powers.”

A Cecil County judge last week issued a temporary restraining order barring Mr. O’Malley from enforcing the order allowing child care workers to unionize, but a Court of Appeals judge stayed the order at the attorney general’s request.

A Circuit Court judge is expected to hold a hearing later this month.


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