RECENT LEGISLATION: Maryland Death Penalty Will Not Face Referendum

Maryland’s death penalty repeal legislation will take effect as scheduled on October 1, 2013 after its opponents were unsuccessful in securing the number of signatures required to put the issue on the November 2014 ballot. Efforts to put Maryland’s death penalty to a statewide vote were led by Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger and a group called MDPetitions.com. On May 31, the group announced that it only collected about 15,000 signatures, falling short of the 18,579 signatures required in order to proceed. If the group had met the initial deadline, they would have had until June 30th to collect more than 37,000 signatures from registered voters in order to place the referendum on the November 2014 ballot. “To be reaffirmed by the public, and know that justice is served, is wonderful,” said Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg (D-Baltimore), who supported the repeal bill, “This is the most profound thing I will ever do.” On May 2, Maryland became the sixth state in six years to abandon capital punishment when Governor Martin O’Malley signed the repeal bill into law.

(J. Wagner, “Petition drive to halt Maryland’s death penalty repeal falls short,” Washington Post, May 31, 2013, E. Cox, “Efforts to restore capital punishment fall short,” Baltimore Sun, May 31, 2013.). See Recent Legislation.