ANNAPOLIS – An emergency bill introduced by the Maryland House of Delegates and Senate to thwart state executions this week will unlikely make it to Gov. Parris N. Glendening before he leaves office.
Even though the death penalty moratorium bills were filed as emergencies, they must be read at a public hearing that will most likely be after the bill filing deadlines – Jan. 31 for the Senate and Feb. 7 for the House.
“Everyone has to know so that they have the opportunity to testify,” said Delegate Joseph F. Vallario Jr., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “(The hearing) will be placed on a day we will be considering all death penalty issues so the same subject matter can be heard together. We’ll have a death penalty day.”
The identical emergency bills, filed briskly by Delegate Salima S. Marriott, D-Baltimore, and Sen. Ralph M. Hughes, D-Baltimore, were the quickest way of getting a moratorium signed by Glendening before Gov.-elect Robert Ehrlich is inaugurated.
“There was still a hope (to get it to Glendening) but it was not very practical that we could do this,” said Vallario, D-Prince George’s.
The sponsors wanted to catch outgoing Glendening because he issued a moratorium on executions in 2000 until University of Maryland researchers were finished studying racial disparities in death sentences, which was released Tuesday and revealed bias in application of the penalty.
On the flip side, Gov.-elect Robert Ehrlich said he would lift the ban.
Waiting for the filing deadlines will allow the House of Delegates and Senate to review all legislation revolving around the death penalty.
“Glendening said he wouldn’t sign (the moratorium) anyway. He thinks it should be the responsibility of the next governor,” Vallario said.
As the General Assembly was called to session Friday, state execution protesters waited outside the State House and asked delegates and senators to remember the victims.
“We are asking them not to support the moratorium. It’s totally ridiculous. It’s the murderers who got life without parole and the victims who received death,” said Betty Romano, of Bel Air, the mother of Dawn Marie Garvin who was murdered in 1987 and whose killer remains on death row. “Trust me, it’s so stressful to go through this.”
Romano’s son, Fred, and daughter-in-law, Vicki, both from Harford County, founded the Maryland Coalition for State Executions for the families of murder victims, and those who support the death penalty.
“If you murder somebody and you fall within the guidelines, then you should be executed,” Fred Romano said. The organization is working with Sen. Nancy Jacobs, R-Harford, to pass “Dawn’s Law,” a bill to help make a death sentence stick.