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Miller: O’Malley ‘in the ballpark’ of votes needed for death penalty repeal

Gov. Martin O’Malley may ultimately find the votes he needs to pass a repeal of the death penalty in Maryland, but Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert and Prince George’s, said the governor was having some trouble rounding up support in the Senate.

“The governor takes one step forward, and he takes one step back,” Miller said, acting out his words on the Senate floor. “He’s in the ballpark. He irritated a couple of people yesterday that are sponsors of the death penalty, so they may be reconsidering their vote at this time.”

Miller said some lawmakers were “irritated” the governor would not be pushing issues that they were interested in.

The bill’s first hurdle is clearing the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, where there have previously not been enough votes to spring repeal legislation to the full Senate. Sen. Brian E. Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat and chairman of the committee, said this week he believed the committee votes might be there.

Miller has said if there are enough votes in the full Senate, he’ll ensure the bill makes it out of committee. He emphasized Friday he still expects a repeal bill to pass.

“I’m confident that once they’ve figured out who’s going to be a sponsor and who’s going to be the lead on the bill, that he’ll have the 24 votes on the floor. It’s just a question of where or when.”