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Panel to vote on death penalty, gun bills next week

Sen. Brian E. Frosh (File Photo)

This slow-starting session of the Maryland General Assembly may receive a jolt next week when a Senate committee votes on bills that would eliminate the death penalty and enact a number of new gun control measures.

Sen. Brian E. Frosh, who chairs the Judicial Proceedings Committee, said his panel may vote on the bills on Thursday. Both pieces of legislation were proposed by Gov. Martin O’Malley.

“It’s going to be a close vote,” said Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat.

There will be amendments to both bills, Frosh said, but it does not appear the gun legislation will be split into multiple bills. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., who has a problem with O’Malley’s handgun licensing proposal, has urged Frosh’s committee to detach that component from the rest of the package, which also restricts mental health patients’ ability to possess firearms and bans assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

Miller said during a Senate session Friday, though, that Frosh is “determined” to keep the measures together.

If the bills are reported favorably out of the judicial panel, they could be debated by the full Senate this month.