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Senators vote with opposite party on death penalty

By Blair Ames, bames@tribune.com

12:00 PM EDT, March 14, 2013

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The Senate passed a repeal of the death penalty last week 27-20, but Howard County senators were on opposing sides of their party in the vote.

Howard County senators last week in Annapolis voted with the opposing party on Gov. Martin O'Malley's bill to repeal the death penalty.

Senators Ed Kasemeyer and James Robey were two of 10 Democratic senators who voted against the bill.

Sen. Allan Kittleman was one of two Republicans to vote for the repeal along with 25 Democratic senators.

The Senate passed the measure, 27-20. The bill is now before the House of Delegates.

Robey, a former police officer and police chief for 32 years, said his vote was based on his law enforcement career. He said certain crimes, including those he has investigated, are so egregious that the death penalty is needed.

"It's not based on what I've seen on television or in movies, this is real life," Robey said.

Kittleman said the death penalty is an issue he has been struggling with for awhile, but testimony that DNA is not always conclusive sealed his decision.

"When you hear things like this, you think that the worst possible thing is to kill someone who is innocent," he said.

Kasemeyer did not return a call for comment.

Gun control moves to House

After passing the Senate on March 2, O'Malley's gun control package is now in front of the House Judiciary and Health and Government Operations committees.

The package includes a ban on assault-type rifle sales, a license requirement to purchase a handgun and a limit on the size of magazine clips.

Del. Shane Pendergrass, a Columbia Democrat on the Health and Government Operations committee, predicted the bill would not come to the House floor for a vote this week.

When it does, Howard County delegates believe it will pass.

"I think it's a step forward and the one thing certainly being protected in this is the Second Amendment," Del. Frank Turner said.

Turner said this bill doesn't solve all problems related to guns, such as handgun violence, but he believes it will be approved by the House.

The issue has split the Howard County delegation down party lines.

Kittleman voted against the governor's gun control package in the Senate, and Republican delegates Gail Bates and Warren Miller said they are not in favor.

Miller said certain guns are being banned because of their appearance — they look like assault weapons — and the licensing aspect will only affect law-abiding citizens.

"The reality is law-abiding citizens don't abuse their firearms," he said.

Del. Guy Guzzone, a co-sponsor of the House bill, said one of the most important features of the bill is the licensing requirement that will limit the number of straw purchases, the purchasing of guns for someone not legally able to do so.

Combined with the ban on assault rifle sales, Guzzone said he believes the House will end up voting in favor of the governor's proposals.

Pendergrass and Del. Liz Bobo said they support the gun control package.

Delegates Steven Deboy and James Malone did not return calls for comment.

Village managers might need license

A bill passed by the House last week and now in front of the Senate's Judicial Proceedings committee would require community managers throughout the state to be licensed by a newly created State Board of Common Ownership Community Managers within the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The bill would exclude the Columbia Association Board of Directors but would require CA village managers to be licensed.

The original version of the bill excluded the CA Board members and village managers, according to bill co-sponsor Liz Bobo.

Bobo said she and Malone lobbied for Columbia's village managers to be excluded, but other representatives "wanted to keep them in" since other management groups will be required to be licensed.

Bobo said she doesn't believe it will be "an onerous process" to be licensed if the Senate also passes a bill in to include CA village managers.