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A bill that would allow most felons to vote immediately upon release from prison appeared to be on the verge of final passage Wednesday after it was approved by the House on an 83-56 vote.

The bill passed the Senate last month. The legislation can't be sent to Gov. Larry Hogan until the two chambers agree on an amendment added in the House.

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The House vote came after a lively debate in which opponents, most of them Republicans, said people who have committed crimes should have to wait to vote until they have finished parole or probation -- as provided in current law.

"This session appears to be the session of the criminal offender," said Del. Anthony J. O'Donnell, a Calvert County Republican, "I believe in redemption, but you have to pay the price first. These people on probation and parole have not yet paid that price."

But Del. Frank Turner, a Howard County Democrat, defended the proposal as crucial to helping offenders redintegrate, which is the point of parole and probation. "We want you to act like a member of society," he said.

The bill could be vulnerable to a veto because the yes votes in the House fell three short of the number needed to override. It passed the Senate with 29 votes, the minimum to override. Hogan has yet to take a position on the bill.

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