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Death penalty is O'Malley's top priority. Unless it's St. Pat's Day.

It's a big day in the House Judiciary Committee. Members are due to debate the death penalty restriction bill the Senate passed earlier this month, and Gov. Martin O'Malley is scheduled to come testify in support of it.

But Julie Bykowicz reports that they're not going to get to the issue right away when the committee meets at 1 o'clock. Instead, they'll delay debate on the highest profile issue they'll hear this year until 3:00 because O'Malley has a conflict. According to his public schedule for the week he'll be in Washington at noon to attend Speaker Nancy Pelosi's St. Patrick's Day Luncheon in honor of Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen.

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O'Malley will have the honor of singing the Irish national anthem at the luncheon (something he's done twice before at such events). Julie reports that the governor's spokesman, Rick Abbruzzese, says the scheduling conflict was something that "couldn't be avoided." He said the governor wanted to testify about death penalty and that if the committee wanted to hear from him, "they had to make some sort of accommodation."

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