Gun Control, Death Penalty & Energy Key Issues In Md. General Assembly

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Derek Valcourt began working at WJZ in September 2002. His first major...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—The start of the 2013  legislation session is just hours away.  Lawmakers have a lot on their plate, including the fate of the death penalty.

Derek Valcourt has a look at what else is on the agenda.

By law, Maryland’s legislative session is a short one, only 90 days.  But lawmakers are promising to tackle some divisive issues.

Many lawmakers are taking aim at gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook school massacre.

Several bills are on the table, including efforts to ban assault weapons, keep better records on gun shops, limit gun permits and have limits on ammunition in a magazine.

Republican lawmakers say they’ll put up a fight.

“The gun control advocates seem to have a laundry list of bills that they had after the latest incident without a lot of thought, without a lot of analysis about whether they will actually solve the problem,” said Sen. E.J. Pipkin,  (R) Eastern Shore.

The NAACP will lead a charge by Democrats to repeal the death penalty, but that effort has failed for the last six years without enough support in the Senate.

Gov. Martin O’Malley’s hopes this year will see change.

“I believe very firmly that the death penalty is a waste of money and ineffective,” O’Malley said.

He’s also putting some of his energy into renewable energy, specifically into allowing wind farms off Maryland’s coastline as he pushes the state toward a goal of 20 percent renewable energy.

“In doing that, we can also create a lot of jobs, so I’m hopeful that it will pass the Senate this year,” O’Malley said.

It seems top lawmakers have also not ruled out the possibility of gas tax increase to pay for Maryland’s badly needed transportation improvements, but those proposals would likely meet with some strong opposition.

Gov. O’Malley won’t release his legislative package until Jan. 18.

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